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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 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

  • Phantom modernisation tender awarded to Germany's DASA
  • Present conjuncture requires implementation of armaments programme
  • Greenpeace taking fresh initiatives on renewable energy sources
  • All restrictions on foreign exchange abolished
  • Pilot of crashed Mirage found dead
  • Pangalos to head delegation of ministers to Tirana
  • Meeting examines European Commission's 'Agenda 2000' proposals
  • Record 199 countries to take part in World Athletics Championships
  • Taxi drivers threaten lawsuits against Athens '97 organisers
  • Kaklamanakis sails off into the Aegean
  • Government aims at lowering indirect tax
  • Dollar's jump drives up Greek fuel price, no other impact seen
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Phantom modernisation tender awarded to Germany's DASA

The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) today officially awarded an 87 billion drachma tender for the modernisation of 39 Hellenic Air Force F-4 Phantom jets to the German company DASA.

The German firm was awarded the tender after three competitions held since last November and the cancellation of a previous competition for the same contract.

DASA's bid was 8 billion drachmas less than that of the American bidder for the tender, while the contract to be signed will also provide for offset benefits.

The Phantom jets will be modernised in cooperation with the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB). Specifically, EAB will undertake the modernisation of the aircraft's skeleton at a cost of 5.5 billion drachmas, while DASA will upgrade the jets' electronic components.

The average cost of modernisation per aircraft is 8 million dollars, compared to 11 million dollars which Turkey recently agreed.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos described the deal as ''very satisfactory'', saying the contract would provide a solution to a longstanding problem.

At the same meeting today, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, KYSEA approved the country's new defence doctrine which continues to view the main threat as coming from the east and stresses the importance of a flexible response capability in order for Greece's policy of deterrence to remain effective.

The council also approved the new structure of the armed forces which provides for the conversion of large military formations into smaller, more flexible and mobile units.

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 occupying themselves exclusively with their operational 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.

Tsohatzopoulos said later that Greece's new armaments programme would be inviting bids by the end of 1998, after all preliminary procedures had been completed.

He made the statements after briefing the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and National Defence Committee on changes being considered in defence structure and progress on the armaments programme.

Greenpeace taking fresh initiatives on renewable energy sources

The Greek branch of the environmental organisation "Greenpeace" said today it was taking fresh initiatives to promote renewable sources of energy at a national and European Union level.

At the same time, it called on investors in Greece and abroad to submit proposals within the framework of the Development Ministry's Operational Energy Programme (OEP) in order to take advantage of recently announced incentives.

"Greenpeace has already briefed over 70 investors in Greece and abroad about the two new phases of the OEP which concern energy conservation measures and the development of environment-friendly sources of energy," the director of Greenpeace's branch in Greece, Stelios Psomas, told a press conference.

In view of the White Paper on renewable forms of energy being prepared by the EU, Psomas said, Greenpeace had proposed to the Energy Commissioner, Greece's Christos Papoutsis, that Community legislation should be adapted in order to facilitate the "penetration" of "clean" energy.

In particular, Greenpeace proposed that private interests should be allowed to generate electricity from renewable sources of energy, and power companies should be compelled to buy the "clean" electricity at reasonable prices.

"Greenpeace welcomes the new initiatives of the Development Ministry," Psomas said, referring to the second phase of the OEP at a total estimated cost of 73 billion drachmas (50 billion for energy conservation and 23 billion for renewable sources of energy) and a separate programme for small- and medium-size enterprises with a budget of 16 billion drachmas.

The environmental organisation however criticised the Public Power Corporation (DEH), charging that it was discouraging efforts for the creation of subsidiary companies for the promotion of renewable sources of energy, "remaining fixed to old-fashioned notions which view these sources as technologically immature".

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.

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.

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.

Taxi drivers threaten lawsuits against Athens '97 organisers

Athens taxi-cab owners today threatened the organisers of the 6th World Athletics Championships, which opens in Athens on Friday, with lawsuits for setting up a joint venture with a private car hire company.

Representatives of SATA, the cab owners' trade union organisation, claimed at a press conference today that the joint venture set up by the organisers - "World Athletics Championships - Athens '97" - and the private company was illegal.

The purpose of the joint venture is reportedly to provide private vehicles for the transportation of athletes and officials during the championships which will end on August 10.

SATA clarified however that it would not organise any labour action since the courts would provide the solution to their grievance.

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.

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

(S.S.)


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