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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-30

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, 30/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Present conjuncture requires implementation of armaments programme
  • Premier to chair KYSEA meeting today
  • All restrictions on foreign exchange abolished
  • Pilot of crashed Mirage found dead
  • FYROM lawyers visit Thessaloniki
  • Defence minister confers with former US presidential advisor
  • Pangalos to head delegation of ministers to Tirana
  • Meeting examines European Commission's 'Agenda 2000' proposals
  • Armaments programme open to bids by end 1998, minister says
  • Record 199 countries to take part in World Athletics Championships
  • Kaklamanakis sails off into the Aegean
  • Government aims at lowering indirect tax
  • Dollar's jump drives up Greek fuel price, no other impact seen
  • Major Cypriot companies show interest in making business in Greece
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Present conjuncture requires implementation of armaments programme

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the present conjuncture requires the implementation of the armaments programme now so as to achieve both the further strengthening of the armed forces and the upgrading of the country's special weight in the international environment to enable it to assume necessary initiatives for security and stability in the region.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos observed that the creation of the General Armaments Department, which has the responsibility of implementing the armaments programme, provides general staffs with the possibility of preoccupying themselves exclusively with their opera tional task.

Mr. Sbokos referred to the targets of the General Armaments Department, stressing that it will be based on the timely implementation of the programme, transparency, quality and economy.

He reiterated the decision taken by the National Defence Ministry's political leadership to have the participation of the local industry in the armaments programme increased by 15 percent.

Premier to chair KYSEA meeting today

Prime Minister Costas Simitis will chair a meeting of the Government Council of Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) today, focusing on national defence policy, the new structure of the armed forces and the country's armaments programme.

According to National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, the basic characteristic in national defence policy strategy remained the fact that "danger posed for the country comes from the east", however, the doctrine will be enlarged with the capacity to respond "to whatever provocation".

On the question of the armed forces' new structure, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos is promoting the conversion of big formations- divisions into smaller and more flexible rapid reaction forces.

Regarding the modernisation of 39 F-4 Phantom jets, an issue on which KYSEA is expected to take a final decision, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas has stated that the offer by the German DASA company was more beneficial compared to the American offer, and also in connection with the condition of delivery of the modernised aircraft by the year 2000.

All restrictions on foreign exchange abolished

All restrictions concerning foreign exchange will be abolished as of August 1 and will be free for all Greeks from now on.

According to two decisions publicised by the Bank of Greece yesterday, as of Friday all people in Greece will be able to purchase as much exchange as they like without restrictions, deposit their exchange without having to explain how it came into their possession, convert their deposits from drachmas into whatever currency they desire and vice-versa and take as much foreign exchange as they wish when travelling abroad.

On the basis of these decisions, anybody will be able to open an exchange account at whatever bank operating in Greece and feed this account with exchange (banknotes or cheques) coming from either abroad (import) or inside the country (the product of a transaction or purchase in drachmas), withdraw from the account amounts of money either in drachmas or exchange, make payments in Greece through his account for current transactions in drachmas or exchange with payment orders and transfer capital abroad w ith payment orders or by issuing a bank cheque.

In the two last cases, namely payments and capital export, certain formalities are necessary.

Pilot of crashed Mirage found dead

Search teams yesterday found the remains of the pilot whose Hellenic Air Force Mirage-2000 jet fighter crashed into the sea northeast of the island of Skyros.

The pilot, Lt. Ioakeim Pantelakis, was on an interception training flight when his aircraft crashed Monday morning for reasons which remain unknown.

His funeral will take place today in Halkida.

FYROM lawyers visit Thessaloniki

Lawyers from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are showing strong interest in participating in the Union of Balkan Lawyers.

Following a visit to Thessaloniki by a delegation of their union, lawyers from FYROM have addressed a letter to the Thessaloniki Bar Association inviting a delegation to visit FYROM in early September for talks on further cooperation.

Defence minister confers with former US presidential advisor

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos met yesterday with visiting former U.S. presidential advisor George Stephanopoulos, whom he briefed on developments in the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus, which he recently visited. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also pointed out the importance of being able to take part in initiatives on peace and stability in the wider geopolitical region, while the two men further exchanged "useful views" on the Cyprus issue and the Aegean.

Mr. Stephanopoulos praised the role Greece could play in the wider region of southern Europe, the Balkans and the Caucasus, where there were regional tensions.

Questioned on the Cyprus issue, Mr. Stephanopoulos recalled U.S. President Bill Clinton's interest, which he said was indicated by the mediation of Richard Holbrooke who, he added, would do everything possible to advance the search for a solution, as th e U.S. believed the time was appropriate for that.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Cyprus was going through a critical period in view of its prospective EU accession, adding that the Holbrooke mediation indicated the severity of the problem, which had serious prospects for a solution. He also described the U.S. government's initiative for a solution of the problem as being of "immense importance", adding that "on all the other issues, let us await the protagonists".

Pangalos to head delegation of ministers to Tirana

A delegation of ministers headed by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos will visit Tirana next Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced yesterday. The delegation includes Public Order Minister George Romeos.

Meeting examines European Commission's 'Agenda 2000' proposals

The Coordinating Inter-Ministerial body convened at the Zappeion Mansion yesterday to examine the Agenda 2000 (proposals by the European Commission on the future development and enlargement of the European Union).

Speaking to reporters shortly before the meeting got underway, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said negotiations will be tough and the future of the EU and Greece will depend on them.

Mr. Papandreou also referred to the Greek position in favour of a simultaneous start to accession negotiations for the 11 candidate countries.

National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas said that the utilisation of EU funds will depend on the country's effort, adding that Greece remains in the Cohesion Fund and in Target 1 for the Structural Funds.

EU funds amounting to 275 billion Ecu are anticipated until the year 2006 (on the basis of proposals made by the Commission) in the framework of the Agenda 2000, compared to 200 billion Ecu over the 1993-1999 period.

Negotiations on the Agenda 2000 will dominate the coming period, heightening with the summit conference in Luxembourg in December, since the cost of the EU's new enlargement will now be scrutinised, as well as the new fiscal prospects until the year 2006.

Armaments programme open to bids by end 1998, minister says

Greece's new armaments programme will be opened to bids by the end of 1998, after all preliminary procedures have been completed, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said last night.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos made the statements after he briefed the Parliament's Foreign Affairs and National Defence Committee on changes being considered in defence structure and progress on the armaments programme.

Referring to the S-300 missiles to be deployed on Cyprus, under a joint military agreement with the republic, he said they would be set up 20 months after January 1, 1997. By the end of the year, the Paphos airport would also be operational, Mr. Tsohatz opoulos said.

The minister also said that all conscripts doing their compulsory military duty will be required to fulfil a nine-month posting at border areas. At present, border duty is set at a minimum of six months.

He said the duty would be implemented to iron out unequal treatment in the armed forces and would affect all services.

Record 199 countries to take part in World Athletics Championships

A participation record has been broken in the 6th World Athletics (IAAF) Championships, starting in Athens' Olympic Stadium this Friday, as the participating countries have risen to 199.

In the Atlanta Olympics the countries which took part in the track and field races had numbered 197, while in the previous World Athletics Championships (5th), in Gotteburg, there were 191 participating countries.

The International Amateur Athletics Association (IAAF) celebrated its 85th anniversary with a grand opening of its congress at the Herod Atticus theatre last night.

IAAF president Primo Nebiolo, in Athens to attend the games opening on Friday, presented prizes to veteran Olympic winners attending the event like Alberto Juantorena from Cuba, Yolanda Balanc from Romania and Valery Borzov, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee.

Kaklamanakis sails off into the Aegean

Olympic windsurfing gold medallist Nikos Kaklamanakis will be escorted by the frigate "Spetsae" as he sails off from Sounion to Crete on his windsurfing board this morning.

Mr. Kaklamanakis is promoting sea tourism and Athens' bid for the 2004 Olympic Games by sailing to Crete with an intermediate stop at Santorini.

He will set off at 11:30 today for the 120 nautical mile trip to Santorini, where he will spend the night before setting off tomorrow on the remaining 80-mile leg to Karteros beach, near Iraklion.

Government aims at lowering indirect tax

The government is considering reducing the prices of heating fuel, as well as road toll fees and tickets for public spectacles, such as theatre, cinema, sports etc.

The move, decided during yesterday's meeting of economic officials at the Finance Ministry, is aimed at lowering indirect tax, which will in turn contribute to lowering the inflation rate.

The government is preparing a series of measures, to be taken now and until October, aimed at retaining prices mainly in fuel and food. Some of them will relate to collecting tax revenue.

Yesterday's meeting was sparked by the sky rocketing price of the dollar. It was decided that relevant authorities be on the alert and monitor developments relating to the American dollarYs exchange rate.

Dollar's jump drives up Greek fuel price, no other impact seen

The government said yesterday the US dollar's steep rise against the drachma had driven up fuel prices but so far left the rest of the economy unscathed.

Monetary and government authorities were keeping close track of the dollar's ascent and any impact it might have on the market, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters.

The dollar lost 0.44 percent against the drachma on Tuesday in a technical correction to a weeklong meteoric rise on the domestic market, reflecting the US currency's jump on world markets.

The greenback finished at 287.14 drachmas from 288.40 at the central bank's daily fix, reversing five straight rising sessions and as many new all-time highs against the national currency.

On Monday the US currency had gained 2.27 percent on the drachma in a week, and 16.5 percent from the beginning of 1997.

Commercial banks will sell the dollar at 291.447 drachmas on Wednesday.

Major Cypriot companies show interest in making business in Greece

Major Cypriot finance companies, including state enterprises, are now paying attention to making business in Greece, with Balkan states being their second option. This is seen in latest activities by major Cypriot companies wishing to exp and in Greece as prospects here are better.

Some state enterprises have already begun the required procedures to register shares with the Athens Stock Exchange, which lately has been doing very well. It is interesting that a number of foreign financial organisations do not hesitate to describe the Greek stock market as the most interesting emerging market in Europe.

Last week, two big companies belonging to the Nikos Siakolas Group of Companies, CTC and Woolworth officially announced their decision to register shares in the Greek Stock Exchange. Reports said more firms from the same group are seriously considering to follow suit.

The Bank of Cyprus, already successfully operating in Greece, is also moving towards the same direction with new moves expected to take place in autumn. On the other hand, the Popular Bank of Cyprus recently announced its expansion to the Balkans and is considering to enter the Greek stock market, too.

WEATHER

Sporadic showers over mainland regions are expected in the afternoon today. The rest of the country will have light cloud, with possibility of termporary rain over the Ionian Sea. Winds will be northerly, mostly moderate, but becoming very strong locally in the Aegean in the afternoon. Athens will be cloudy with possible local rainfall in the north and temperatures of 22-33 C. The same for Thessaloniki, with temperatures 20-31 C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.843 Pound sterling 464.911 Cyprus pd 529.391 French franc 46.017 Swiss franc 187.855 German mark 155.198 Italian lira (100) 15.926 Yen (100) 242.236 Canadian dlr. 205.701 Australian dlr. 210.264 Irish Punt 415.112 Belgian franc 7.517 Finnish mark 52.453 Dutch guilder 137.724 Danish kr. 40.765 Swedish kr. 35.914 Norwegian kr. 37.492 Austrian sch. 22.055 Spanish peseta 1.840 Port. Escudo 1.537

(L.G.)


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