Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-31
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 31/07/1997 (ANA)
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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.
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.
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