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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 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

  • Athens says Cyprus solution should make use of "experience"
  • Govt. to appoint evaluator for Florina power plant
  • Konstantopoulos urges humanitarian approach to Iraqi refugees
  • Two new Airbuses purchased for OA fleet
  • 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
  • FYROM aircraft makes emergency landing in Greece
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens says Cyprus solution should make use of "experience"

Greece said today that the solution being sought to the Cyprus problem should be one which takes into consideration United Nations resolutions and the texts of agreements reached in the past and which "makes use of experience".

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the statement when asked to comment on statements by NATO Secretary General Javier Solana.

"Mr. Solana is familiar with the development of things," Reppas added.

Speaking Tuesday in New York, Solana did not rule out the possibility of NATO taking a more active role to safeguard Cyprus' security in the future.

At the same time he expressed the hope that the Cyprus problem would be resolved during 1998.

Reppas noted that for the first time the conditions appeared to exist and efforts being made for a solution, while stressing that it was still "early days" and "Greece continues to be reserved".

The spokesman strongly criticised Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for threatening not to attend the second round of UN-sponsored negotiations in August unless the European Union suspends its decision to start accession talks with Cyprus.

"Mr. Denktash is compromising himself and Turkey. It appears that he lacks the will to contribute to a settlement," Reppas said.

The spokesman added that Denktash's statements were tantamount to blackmailing the EU "because when the decisions were taken about the accession procedure for Cyprus, the situation on the island was known".

"The decisions of the EU are not subject to any revocation or dilution due to the statements of Mr. Denktash, whose only task is to contribute to a solution of the Cyprus problem," Reppas said.

Govt. to appoint evaluator for Florina power plant

The government will appoint an evaluator to determine a market price for construction of a state-owned electricity plant in the northern town of Florina in order to protect public money, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters today.

Construction of the plant, whose cost has been cited at roughly 175 billion drachmas, has already been awarded to a consortium led by Russia's Prometheus under a 1994 bilateral pact between the two countries.

The terms of the deal have come under fire from several deputies within the ruling socialist PASOK party, and from parliamentary opposition parties.

Hiring an independent evaluator would ensure transparency in the deal and allow a final decision to be taken on a market price for construction of the plant, quelling remaining doubts, Reppas said.

He charged the main opposition conservative New Democracy party, which has opposed the terms of the deal, with scandal-mongering for political gain.

A cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis agreed on Wednesday to hire the evaluator in order to assess the price agreed by state-run Public Power Corporation (DEI) with the consortium.

The suggestion to use an outside evaluator was one among several put forward at the meeting by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, whose ministry is responsible for DEI.

Konstantopoulos urges humanitarian approach to Iraqi refugees

The leader of the Coalition of the Left and Progress, Nikos Konstantopoulos, said today that Greece should show a spirit of humanitarianism regarding the 180 Iraqi illegal immigrants currently aboard a cargo vessel which broke down in the Aegean while headed for Italy.

"The terrible ordeal of the Iraqi victims of refugee smugglers dictates that our country displays a spirit of humanitarianism, social sensitivity and international solidarity," Konstantopoulos said.

A Ukrainian-flagged ship carrying the 180 illegal immigrants, including 40 children, has been towed to Anavyssos, Attica, after its engines failed near the island of Andros.

"It is absolutely urgent that these exhausted people are allowed to disembark, be examined by doctors, be provided with all necessary medical care, food and anything else they may need, and for special arrangements to be made for looking after the children," the Coalition leader said.

Konstantopoulos also urged the government to examine "with an open mind" the possibility of the Iraqis being allowed to stay in Greece.

Two new Airbuses purchased for OA fleet

Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis today announced the purchase of two new Airbus A340 for the national carrier Olympic Airways.

Kastanidis said that the contract, which will be signed in the next few days, also contained an option for the purchase of a further two aircraft.

The minister clarified that the board of directors of OA had been authorised to approve the purchase on the recommendation of the State Audit Council which checked the draft contract after examining all the technical and financial terms contained in the relevant offers.

"All procedures were conducted in a manner which underlines the importance attached by the government to transparency," Kastanidis said.

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.

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.

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

(S.S.)


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