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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-31

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, 31/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • KYSEA awards modernisation of 39 F-4 Phantoms to Germany's DASA
  • Greece condemns suicide bombing in Jerusalem market
  • Record 200 countries to take part in World Athletics Championships
  • IAAF halves anabolics penalty
  • Broken-down ship carries 180 illegal immigrants
  • FYROM aircraft makes emergency landing in Greece
  • INTRAKOM reaches exports agreement with Jordanian company
  • Electricity rates increase by 3.5% from tomorrow
  • Green light given to a new ELVO investment programme
  • Greece cuts petrol tax to curb inflation after dollar's rise
  • Bank of Attica wants to launch Dr 8.5 billion share cap rise
  • Greek private construction rises 5 pct in May
  • Greece to attend industrial fair in Tehran
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

KYSEA awards modernisation of 39 F-4 Phantoms to Germany's DASA

The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) yesterday awarded an 87 billion drachma tender for 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.

At the same meeting yesterday, 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 o rder 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.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later that the KYSEA had unanimously approved Mr. Tsohatzopoulos' recommendations on the basic principles of his ministry's policy and the new structure of the armed forces.

Mr. Reppas underlined that Turkey was making efforts to strengthen its armed forces "to the maximum" in order to overturn the status quo in the Aegean "as well as in relations between the two countries". "Greece's policy has also aimed at consolidating conditions of peace and security in the region. Our country has never been a warmonger,'' Mr. Reppas said, adding however that "we are alert and ready to confront any threat".

Regarding the new structure of the armed forces, the KYSEA decided to reduce army divisions and shift the "centre of gravity" to brigades as operational units.

At the same time, it decided that the Second Army Corps should cease to have specific territorial responsibility and instead be converted into a special, flexible force with a high degree of mobility and a capability for dealing with "emergency situatio ns".

Mr. Reppas said meanwhile that the armaments programme will have taken its final form by the end of the year.

New armaments, he said, accounted for 23 per cent of the programme, 29 per cent is at the level of offer evaluation, 18 per cent at the stage of feasibility approval and the remaining 30 per cent at the drawing up of operational specifications.

Greece condemns suicide bombing in Jerusalem market

Greece condemned in the "most absolute way" the suicide bombing of a Jerusalem street market that killed 13 people and the two Arab bombers yesterday, saying that such acts have a negative effect on the peace process which should however continue.

"The people and government of Greece condemn in the most absolute way and express their abhorrence over the terrorist act at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem," a Foreign Ministry statement said.

"They also express their sincere condolences to the government of Israel and the families of the victims.

"Greece has always been opposed to whatever form of terrorist acts from wherever they may come," the statement added.

"Such acts have a negative effect on the Middle East peace process, which is at a very delicate phase. The resumption of negotiations as well as the promotion and completion of the peace process can and must constitute the strong answer to terrorism," i t concluded.

The Islamic militant movement Hamas claimed responsibility for the double suicide bombing that killed 15 people and left more than 150 wounded.

Record 200 countries to take part in World Athletics Championships

Participating countries in the 6th IAAF World Athletics Championships, to open in Athens tomorrow, have risen to 200, setting a new record. The last country to confirm it is taking part in the track and field meeting, yesterday, was Iraq.

The record number of countries, as well as the excellent work done by the "Athens 97" organising committee in preparing the event, prompted the International Classic Sports Federation to announce that the Athens 6th World Athletics Championships is expected to be the best so far in its history.

IAAF halves anabolics penalty

The International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) today halved its penalty for first-time anabolics offenders to two-year maximum suspension from athletics events from the present four-year maximum.

Delegates at the annual two-day IAAF congress in Athens, which opened Wednesday, today voted 112-56 with three abstentions in favour of a proposal by several European countries, spearheaded by Germany, to reduce the ban.

The four-year maximum suspension for athletes caught using steroid anabolics for a first time, introduced by the IAAF in 1991, has caused problems with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which was pressing for reduction of the ban, and also with civil courts in many countries, to which athletes took recourse.

A second offense carries a lifetime ban. The IAAF spent 1.7 million dollars on combatting doping last year.

IAAF president Primo Nebiolo endorsed a reduction of the ban in statements to the Congress on Thursday.

Nebiolo told delegates the IAAF had spent 1.7 million dollars last year to combat doping.

The congress voted against a similar proposal two years ago in Gotteburg, fearing a reduction would be construed as a softening of the Federation's stance against doping.

Broken-down ship carries 180 illegal immigrants

An Ukrainian-flagged ship carrying 180 Iraqi illegal immigrants, including 40 children, was towed to Anavyssos, Attica, after its engines failed close to the island of Andros. The ship "Soloch" had left Izmir and was heading for Italy, when it had a gener al power failure in the early hours yesterday. The Andros coast guard, alerted by a fisherman, did not succeed in raising the captain of the ship on radio and notified the Merchant Marine, which in turn alerted all ships in the area and the air force.

The ship remained out of control and tossed in rough seas until yesterday. After being located by an air force reconnaisance aircraft, a ship left Piraeus to tow the "Soloh" to safety. The captain and the crew had abandoned the ship. The operation was c ompleted late yesterday evening.

In statements to the authorities, the immigrants said they had paid US$3, 000 each to a Turkish slave-trader for passage to Italy.

FYROM aircraft makes emergency landing in Greece

An aircraft belonging to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) made an emergency landing at the airport of Thessaloniki yesterday. The aircraft was coming from Dusseldorf and was heading for Skopje, but due to a storm there was forced to postpone landing. Fuel was not enough to stay in the air, so the pilot gained permission to land and refuel at Thessaloniki. After a stop-over of half an hour it headed back to Skopje.

INTRAKOM reaches exports agreement with Jordanian company

The INTRAKOM company has concluded its first important exports agreement with a company from the rapidly developing telecoms markets in the Middle East with the signing of a contract in Jordan initially amounting to three million dollars.

The contract concerns the procurement of 3,000 cardphones for the Trans Jordan Corporation company together with the relevant supervision and management system and maintenance of the utility network.

According to an announcement by INTRAKOM, the amount anticipated by the contract is expected to be more than doubled in the next year, covering in this way the needs for utility telephony all over Jordan.

The Trans Jordan company is a joint Greek-Jordanian enterprise with 50 per cent of its shareholders being Jordanian businessmen from the country's telephony sector and the remaining 50 per cent being the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) an d HELLASCOM which, following international tendering, received one of the two licences to develop and exploit utility telephony in Jordan.

INTRAKOM's integrated cardphone system is already established in 10 countries and sales on the international scene are in the region of 100,000 cardphones.

Electricity rates increase by 3.5% from tomorrow

New electricity rates, increased by 3.5 per cent will apply in DEH as of August 1, 1997. Development Minister Vaso Papandreou said the increase is to be considered slight, since it will have neither an impact on the inflation rate, nor will burden consumers.

The minister added that DEH rates had remained frozen for the past 25 months, while since 1996 there has been a lowering of 7 per cent for commercial consumers and large families.

Green light given to a new ELVO investment programme

A decision by the Ministry of Development yesterday gave the green light to a new three-year investment programme of the Hellenic Vehicles Industry (ELVO) amounting to 1 billion drachmas.

The cost of the approved investment programme will be subsidised by 40 per cent. The operational plan includes an extension and modernisation of ELVO production plants, purchase of modern machinery and a comprehensive computer system for programming andd checking of production.

According to ELVO president Lykourgos Sakellaris "the expected results of the new investments are regarded important to the companyYs operation, since they will contribute to boosting production, competitiveness of products, flexibility of production an d improvement of quality".

The industry has so far been involved in the production of military vehicles and only in the last two years has entered the commercial vehicle area. The investment programme is expected to allow the firm to further expand to local and international markets.

Greece cuts petrol tax to curb inflation after dollar's rise

Greece will lower its gasoline tax today in order to contain a jump in fuel prices sparked by the dollar's meteoric rise on world markets that has jeopardised the country's inflation targets.

The reduction by four drachmas per litre ordained by the development ministry will stay in place until September 30, and covers the whole country.

The ministry also decided the imposition as of today July 31 1997 of a consumer ceiling in the sale of gasoline. The measure will apply all over the country except Athens and Thessaloniki.

The dollar again rose versus the drachma at the central bank's daily fix to close at 288.030 drachmas from 287.14 in the previous session. On Monday the US currency had gained 2.27 percent in a week and 16.5 percent from the beginning of 1997.

Development Minister Vasso Papandreou told reporters yesterday the tax cut aimed to contain prices and protect consumers despite the rise of the dollar and fuel prices worldwide.

The government has ordered spot checks in the market to halt profiteering , she said.

Gasoline prices will drop by 1.2 drachmas against the previous week's levels, taking into account the tax drop and a readjustment of international prices. Without the government's intervention, consumers would have paid 3.5 drachmas more per litre of gasoline.

Bank of Attica wants to launch Dr 8.5 billion share cap rise

Bank of Attica's board of directors will propose a share capital rise of 8.5 billion drachmas at a special shareholders' meeting on August 27.

Shareholders will be asked to endorse the plan and decide the price and terms of the bank's share distribution.

Bank of Attica said in a statement yesterday that the share capital increase was part of a strategy to reinforce its presence in the marketplace.

Greek private construction rises 5 pct in May

Greek private construction rose by five percent in May year-on-year, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said in a statement yesterday.

It rose by 4.8 percent in January-May against the same period of 1996, NSS said.

Greece to attend industrial fair in Tehran

Greece is to take part in an international industrial fair in Tehran, with the organisation having being assigned to the Greek Organisation of Foreign Trade-OPE.

Products on show in the international fair, to be held in the Iranian capital from October 2 to 10, will include industrial and chemical products, cars, manufacturing equipment, electronics and products and services in the construction of chemical plants.

WEATHER

Sporadic showers over mainland regions are expected in the afternoon today. Most other regions will have light cloud, but fair weather will prevail over the eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese. Winds will be northerly, mostly moderate, but becoming very strong locally in the Aegean. Athens will be cloudy with possible local rainfall and temperatures 22-32 C. Same for Thessaloniki, with temperatures 20-30 C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.726 Pound sterling 464.395 Cyprus pd 529.887 French franc 46.039 Swiss franc 187.706 German mark 155.198 Italian lira (100) 15.920 Yen (100) 240.540 Canadian dlr. 206.574 Australian dlr. 212.883 Irish Punt 416.144 Belgian franc 7.517 Finnish mark 52.249 Dutch guilder 137.828 Danish kr. 40.757 Swedish kr. 35.797 Norwegian kr. 37.458 Austrian sch. 22.054 Spanish peseta 1.840 Port. Escudo 1.538

(L.G.)


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