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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-08-22

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 22/08/1997 (ANA)


  • US Congressmen briefed by Parliament President
  • Papantoniou pledges cutbacks in '98 state expenditures
  • Slight damage from tremors in northern Greece
  • Tourist boat runs aground
  • Minister calls for solution to eastern Attica garbage problem
  • State Dept. approval for Security Council briefing on Cyprus
  • Art, film festival to bring together Greek, Turkish artists
  • DEP share capital to increase
  • Low prices noted for grapes in European markets
  • Greek meat firm may open new Balkan exports base in Cyprus
  • Greek stocks end flat in slack trade
  • Greek youth volleyball team in world championships finals
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


US Congressmen briefed by Parliament President

The head of a visiting US House of Representatives delegation expressed concern today over the Cyprus issue and the Aegean.

"We are concerned with the tensions in the Aegean and the Cyprus issue, and are seeking a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem," Congressman Robert Menendez (Dem.-New Jersey) said after talks with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

Mr. Menendez is heading a delegation of members of the House of Representatives' Foreign Relations Committee, who were briefed by Mr. Kaklamanis on Greek- Turkish relations and developments in the Cyprus issue.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Menendez stressed the U.S. interest in its bilateral relations with Greece, adding that Greece "is a very important ally of the U.S. and NATO".

Mr. Kaklamanis told reporters he had underlined to the Congressmen the intransigence displayed by the Turkish side which, he said, "in essense has cancelled out not only the spirit but also the letter of the Madrid agreement with its provocative stance regarding the Aegean, the threat of war (emanating) from its intransigent stance, Turkey's aggressive position with its landing fleet stationed opposite the Greek islands, and its intransigence on the eve of the Clerides-Denktash meeting, which was selected by Ankara, guiding this international criminal, Denktash, through its decision to begin incorporation of the occupied part of Cyprus with Turkey".

"We are here in Greece because we do not intend to wash our hands of the matter," Mr. Menendez told Mr. Kaklamanis.

US Ambassador in Athens Thomas Niles said later that "the process which began in Madrid is alive and we believe that progress will continue".

"There will be problems along the way. No one believed that this process would be easy and without difficulties, nor that the problems would automatically be resolved," Mr. Niles said.

On the Cyprus problem, the US Ambassador said Washington had a clear commitment and would work for a settlement.

"Richard Holbrooke will now act as President Clinton's special envoy and we shall continue to work to find ways so as to consolidate the understanding attained in Madrid. You must be prepared for the problems which will arise throughout the process, as we are," Niles said.

The US envoy made the statements to reporters after accompanying the visiting House of Representatives delegation for talks with main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis focusing on the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations.

Mr.Niles is scheduled to hand over his post as ambassador to former State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns on September 27.

Papantoniou pledges cutbacks in '98 state expenditures

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday that 1998 will be a year of "austerity for the state" and consolidation of the major tax reforms.

He made the statement after a meeting with Finance Undersecretaries George Drys and Nikos Christodoulakis, which focused on the government's 1998 economic policy.

Mr. Papantoniou also said the 1998 budget would be crucial, as it would determine the country's participation in the Economic and Monetary Union. He said the government's economic policy for 1998 would focus on state austerity and tax reforms, implying that the state will cut expenditures.

Replying to criticism that there are deviations in the 1997 budget, Mr. Papantoniou said there were no deviations, adding that state revenues were rising by 12.5 per cent. He said that by the end of the year he expected state revenues to rise by 14.5 per cent.

"1998 will be a year of recovery," Mr. Papantoniou said, forecasting a 4 per cent GDP rise as against a 3.5 per cent this year.

Economic issues will also be discussed today during a meeting of the ruling PASOK party's political secretariat, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis. Mr. Papantoniou, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos will participate.

Slight damage from tremors in northern Greece

Two earth tremors this morning caused further minor damage to buildings in villages in Kozani and Grevena, northern Greece, which had been hit by the destructive 1995 quake.

The two tremors, measuring 4 and 4.6 on the Richter scale were recorded at 06.10 and 06.18 local time today. Their epicentre was 295 kilometres northwest of Athens in the area of Kozani and Grevena.

Kozani Prefect Pascahlis Mitliagas told the ANA that the tremors caused further minor damage to buildings - in twenty villages of Kozani and Grevena - which had not been repaired since the May 1995 earthquake.

Seismologists did not appear to be concerned by the latest tremors generated by the Rymnio fault, attributing them to normal post-seismic activity in the wake of the 1995 quake.

An earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale was recorded in the same region last Saturday.

Tourist boat runs aground

A tourist boat carrying 14 passengers on a sightseeing trip ran aground in shallow waters today on the islet of Panagia, near Alonissos but none of the occupants were injured.

The Thessaloniki-registered "Sofia Star" had sailed from the island of Skiathos on a day-trip.

Despite the efforts of two fishing vessels, the tourist boat remained aground.

Minister calls for solution to eastern Attica garbage problem

The dispute over proposed sites for landfills in eastern Attica reached a pitch yesterday when Environment, Public Works and Town Planning Minister Costas Laliotis called on municipal authorities in the region to assume their responsibilities.

"It is simply inacceptable that twenty garbage dumps exist in eastern Attica, polluting the water table and threatening public health," he said, urging local authorities to "set a modern example" in dealing with the thousands of tonnes of garbage produc ed by their municipalities every day.

The minister, referring to the existing landfill in Liossia, western Attica, said that a 32-billion-drachma plan was under way to deal with two-thirds of Attica's refuse, including new landfill sites and recycling systems.

Former sites in Schisto and Ano Liossia, he said, were being converted into a 2.5 square kilometre park.

State Dept. approval for Security Council briefing on Cyprus

The US State Department has expressed approval of the UN Security Council briefing on the Cyprus issue by the Secretary General's special adviser Diego Cordovez on Wednesday, and of statements by the Council's British chairma n, John Weston, criticising the Turkish Cypriot side and commending President Glafcos Clerides for his stand during talks in Montreux, Switzerland, last week.

Spokesman James Rubin said Mr. Cordovez's briefing was accurate and that the State Department was in agreement with the Security Council chairman's statement.

He also said that progress on humanitarian issues was possible even when this was not the case on issues of substance, and that the US certainly hoped so.

Art, film festival to bring together Greek, Turkish artists

The first-ever Festival of Arts and Films is due to open in Turkey next Saturday with the aim of bringing together artists from Greece and Turkey.

The festival is organised by the group which is responsible for the administration of the Izmir Cinema Festival, and the Fine Arts Foundation for Education and Culture. The festival will take place in Cesme.

DEP share capital to increase

The government yesterday approved an increase by 20.9 billion drachmas in the share capital of the state-owned Public Petroleum Corp. (DEP).

Following this initial approval, a draft presidential decree on the increase was submitted to the Council of State for processing.

The increase calls for an issuing of 4,197 registered shares with a nominal value of five million drachmas each. They will be issued in 20 packages of 200, 1 of 100 and one of 97 shares.

The shares will all revert to the state, DEP's only shareholder.

Under these provisions, DEP's subsidiary for natural gas, DEPA, will also receive 20.9 billion drachmas from the public investment programe.

The increase will raise DEP's share capital to a total of 180.6 billion drachmas, or 36,128 shares of five million drachmas each.

Low prices noted for grapes on European markets

Low prices for the "Victoria" variety of grapes in European markets is causing concern to thousands of producers, exporters and government officials in Kavala.

Prices in Munich, the largest market abroad for Greek grapes, vary between 70 and 80 drachmas a kilo, a price 15-20 per cent lower than 1996, creating fears that a large part of this year's 30,000-tonne crop will remain unsold.

Producers' worries are compounded by an increase in transportation fees, which have been increased from 500,000 drachmas to 800,000 drachmas per load, resulting in an extra cost of 40 drachmas per kilo at a time when grapes are not subsidised by the EU.

Greek meat firm may open new Balkan exports base in Cyprus

Greece's Yfandis processed meat manufacturer is to decide in the near future whether to build a factory in Cyprus budgeted at 770 million drachmas that could be used as an exports base for the Balkans and Middle East, a company executive said.

Yfandis, which is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, has already completed surveys of the Cypriot market, which taken in isolation would be too small to warrant a costly investment, general director Christos Bartsokas told yesterday the Nicosia Philel eftheros daily newspaper.

But using the new plant as a base for Balkan and Middle Eastern exports would make the investment viable, Mr.Bartsokas said.

Greek stocks end flat in slack trade

Greek equities ended with minor changes after subdued trading on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday.

Market sources said investors were reluctant to open new positions ahead of the government's initial decisions over drafting next year's budget and further measures to contain 1997's larger-than-expected budget shortfall.

The general index closed 0.05 percent lower at 1,619.20 points despite a 2.78 percent gain in the construction sector.

Other sector indices moved in a narrow range. Banks fell 0.27 percent, Leasing rose 0.29 percent, Insurance eased 0.98 percent, Investment fell 0.33 percent, Industrials were 0.05 percent off, Holding rose 0.14 percent and Miscellaneous ended 1.08 perce nt higher.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.64 percent.

Trading remained thin and turnover was 7.8 billion drachmas.

Broadly, decliners narrowly led advancers by 103 to 91 with another 32 issues unchanged.

Pireaus Investment, Athinea, Demetriades and Balkan Export scored the biggest percentage gains, while Lambropoulos, Ippotour and Ideal suffered the heaviest losses of the day.

National Bank of Greece ended at 37,000 drachmas, Ergobank at 17,840, Alpha Credit Bank at 19,690, Delta Dairy at 4,250, Titan Cement at 14,910, Intracom at 12,975 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6, 510.

In the domestic foreign exchange market, the US dollar rose by 0.27 percent against the drachma.

Greek youth volleyball team in world championships finals

The Greek youth team in volleyball qualified for the final at the world championships in the Iranian capital after beating Poland yesterday in a game that lasted 2.5 hours.

"Anything may happen in the finals and we want to beat Italy at last," the team's coach, Nikos Neofytos, said. Greece plays against Italy today for first place.


Sunny weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today except some cloudiness and afternoon showers in the mainland, the Ionian and the northern Aegean Sea. Light to strong northerly winds in the south- eastern Aegean. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 20-31. Similar weather in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 17-30C.


Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 288.493 Pound sterling 458.820 Cyprus pd 529.668 French franc 46.148 Swiss franc 189.452 German mark 155.397 Italian lira (100) 15.962 Yen (100) 244.657 Canadian dlr. 206.852 Australian dlr. 215.125 Irish Punt 416.918 Belgian franc 7.527 Finnish mark 52.130 Dutch guilder 138.047 Danish kr. 40.769 Swedish kr. 35.762 Norwegian kr. 37.339 Austrian sch. 22.096 Spanish peseta 1.840 Port. Escudo 1.532


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