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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-19

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, 19/09/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Turkish policy change in its own interests
  • German teenager arrested
  • Athens confident of tripartite oil pipeline deal
  • Cooperation between Balkan bourses discussed
  • Greece studies NATO measures to reduce tension in the Aegean
  • Gov't determined to implement 'Kapodistrias' plan
  • Pangalos reiterates Cyprus' call for demilitarisation
  • Ancient Dodoni theatre to receive funds for works
  • Gov't fires all personnel hired after July 31, 1997
  • IOBE study says Olympic's dominance, future threatened
  • Development ministry initiative to contain inflation
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Turkish policy change in its own interests

A change in Turkey's behaviour and policy is linked to the pursuit of its strategic interests in rapprochement with Europe, Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis said today.

Apostolakis was speaking at a ceremony marking the end of the land and air military exercise "Philippos '97" in northern Greece.

Greece hopes that relations with neighbouring Turkey can find their "practical expression, in line with the text of principles agreed upon at Madrid between the Greek prime minister and the Turkish president".

"We demand from Turkey that it operate with the same logic and in the same direction of peaceful co-existence and dialogue with good will," he said.

Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem will meet in New York next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the first high-level meeting between the two sides since Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel signed a joint communique concerning broad principles to govern bilateral relations earlier this summer.

A climate of security and stability was necessary in the Balkans to foster growth and prosperity of all the peoples of the region, Apostolakis said.

This was the reasoning behind Athens' invitation to host a tripartite meeting between Belgrade, Skopje and Tirana at the Balkan summit in Crete in early November which would enable the discussion of specific matters affecting them.

German teenager arrested

A 19-year-old German high school student has been arrested at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport in possession of a small quantity of hashish, police said today.

Johanes Simon Muller was arrested on arrival from Munich yesterday afternoon after 2.2 grams of hashish were found in his luggage.

Athens confident of tripartite oil pipeline deal

Athens said today that the planned pipeline bringing Caspian oil from the Bulgarian port of Bourgas to the Greek port of Alexandroupolis was going ahead.

Responding to press questions regarding an announcement from Sofia yesterday on the construction of an oil pipeline that would transfer Caspian oil through Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania to the Adriatic, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that negotiations on the project had begun some time ago without there being any progress.

Reppas said it was pointless to be discussing issues which were still at the planning stage.

On the other hand, he said, the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis project is under way and there is a timetable for its completion.

According to the Bulgarian news agency BTA, an international conference on trans-Balkan oil and gas pipelines which began in Sofia on Thursday examined two projects on the construction of oil pipelines via Bulgaria, with Bulgarian experts saying that Bulgaria does not see the two projects as alternative but as two possibilities Bulgaria could avail itself of to develop its economy and profit from the transiting fees.

The AMBO British corporation presented a 560-mile long pipeline project to transfer crude from the Caspian through Bulgaria, FYROM and Albania to the Mediterranean which would have a capacity of up to 650,000 barrels daily or 400 million annually and cost 850 million US dollars.

BTA said the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis project was also a focus of discussion at the conference and that it was a project that Sofia and Athens had agreed upon as early as 1994.

Under preliminary estimates the length of the oil pipeline will be between 242- 285 km with an annual capacity of 30-40 million tons. The project is expected to cost 650-750 million US dollars.

The BTA dispatch said Greece had said funding of the project had been approved at a meeting with Bulgaria and Russia in June 1997. However, there were some disagreements between Athens and Sofia on technical points on on the necessity of appointing an international consultant to make a feasibility study of the project, experts said.

Cooperation between Balkan bourses discussed

The prospects of cooperation between the Athens Stock Exchange with stock markets in Romania and Bulgaria was the focus of discussion at a meeting at the Thessaloniki Stock Exchange Centre today.

The agenda of the meeting, attended by officials from the three markets and also by a senior executive of the Brussels Stock Exchange, included the issue of listing new companies on the stock market, use of common electronic trading systems, and training by the Athens bourse authorities.

The officials agreed that the Thessaloniki Stock Exchange could develop into a centre of regional cooperation in the Balkans.

The Belgian official presented the meeting with details of a cooperation deal linking stock markets in Brussels, Amsterdam and Luxembourg.

Greece studies NATO measures to reduce tension in the Aegean

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos revealed yesterday that NATO Secretary General Javier Solana had submitted a new package of measures designed to reduce tension in the Aegean which the Greek government was presently studying. "We will respond by the end of the month," Mr. Pang alos said, without giving further details.

"Greece," he said, "wants to transform the Aegean into a sea of peace and does not desire the escalation of tension.

"However, it is not prepared to legitimise arbitrary Turkish views and claims on the region," he said. "If we can deal with the problems in the Aegean and there is a climate of confidence between the two countries," Mr. Pangalos said, "then we can begin examining the easing of tension in regard to the armaments of the two countries."

Greece's foreign policy goals, he added, remained the same: Greece's equal participation in the European Union; and playing a leading role in the pursuit of peace and progress in the Balkans.

In a related development, Mr. Solana said war between Greece and Turkey is inconceivable, in reply to a question by the Athens News Agency (ANA) in Washington yesterday.

"I cannot conceive war between two NATO member-states. I cannot conceive this possibility," he said, adding that he was optimistic over the prospect of an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.

Commenting on efforts being made by NATO for an improvement in Greek- Turkish relations, Mr. Solana said "I started a discreet round of talks with Greece and Turkey which was concluded in July and we had a partial success. We are trying to start again in the coming weeks and continue to work on confidence-building measures and we will try to offer what we can there."

Mr. Solana disclosed that on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next week, he would be meeting twice with the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey and will have the opportunity to discuss NATO's initiative with them.

Gov't determined to implement 'Kapodistrias' plan

The government is determined to proceed with far-reaching changes to the structure and organisation of local and regional governments, Prime Minister Costas Simitis underlined yesterday.

Mr. Simitis was speaking after a two-hour visit to the interior ministry, where he held talks with Minister Alekos Papadopoulos, Undersecretary Lambros Papadimas and other ministry officials.

Mr. Simitis dismissed criticism of the "Ioannis Kapodistrias" plan to merge small communities and villages, telling reporters there would be no changes to the bill since there had been extensive cooperation between the environment, town planning and public works ministry and organisations representing local communities, municipalities and regions.

"The more effective municipalities that will result (from the plan) are the only way towards a more effective public administration," he said.

"We are the last country in Europe to undertake these reforms," he said, adding that the new system would contain wasteful spending and be more representative and democratic.

Pangalos reiterates Cyprus' call for demilitarisation

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said yesterday that Cyprus was interested in the demilitarisation of the divided island republic and not in a "frenzied armament".

Referring to this week's announcement by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had agreed to face-to-face talks on security issues, Mr. Pangalos said the talks were sepa rate and unconnected to a resolution of the Cyprus problem.

"Denktash has agreed to begin this dialogue but we have to see up to which point he is prepared to go and, likewise, if and how he will be able to uphold any decisions," he told reporters.

"President Clerides, for example, is the head of the National Guard. Denktash is not the head of the Turkish occupation forces, thus, at some point in time he may declare an inability to take any decision," Mr. Pangalos said.

Asked about the participation of Turkish Cypriots in upcoming EU accession negotiations with Cyprus, Mr. Pangalos said Mr. Denktash had repeatedly declared his opposition to Cyprus joining the European Union and that the Turkish Cypriot community had first to accept in principle Cyprus' accession, adding that there had been many proposals on the community's participation brought forward and that the legitimate body to decide was the Cypriot government.

Ancient Dodoni theatre to receive funds for works

The ancient theatre of Dodoni, in Epirus, will receive an infusion of funds to reconstruct, stabilise and promote it as a site along with its surroundings, the culture ministry announced yesterday.

A five-year contract was signed between the ministry, the prefecture of Ioannina and the Archaeological Fund.

More such contracts are expected to follow for other ancient theatres around Greece.

Gov't fires all personnel hired after July 31, 1997

All people hired in the public sector after July 31, 1997 under any term of contract are dismissed, while officials of 34 public utilities and organisations who have proceeded with illegal hirings are being summoned to a prosecutor, the government said ye sterday.

This was announced in Parliament during a discussion on a draft bill expanding a law on hirings in the public sector.

Under Greek law, all new hirings in the public sector must be approved by ASEP, a state commission responsible for announcing positions, setting criteria and approving hirings. ASEP has put a freeze on public sector hirings, making all hirings illegal after a certain date.

The decision was also agreed upon by the opposition, whose suggestions were taken into account by Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Stavros Benos.

The public sector companies that have been illegally hiring people include the Greek Post Offices (ELTA), Olympic Airways (OA), the National Tourism Organisation (EOT), the National Opera, communities, technical schools, universities, hospitals and others.

IOBE study says Olympic's dominance, future threatened

The development of competition in the air transport sector from the establishment and operation of new Greek airline companies will signal the end of state-owned Olympic Airway's monopoly. This resulted from a decrease in tariffs on certain routes and an increase in overall passenger travel and the existence of more options for domestic consumers.

These conslusions were drawn in the latest study by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE). On the question of Olympic, it was pointed out that despite implementation of a restructuring programme,the state carrier is facing a series of problems and challenges which, if not handled quickly and effectively, will jeopardise its long-term survival.

Referring to developments in the sector of newly established private companies, the report said that these companies were faced with lack of experience from the start of their operation and protectionism in favour of the national carrier.

Development ministry initiative to contain inflation

The development ministry will embark immediately on branch national agreements to contain inflation's upward trend.

The agreements will be pursued, apart from producers and merchants as was the case to date, in other classes of professionals as well.

According to an announcement by Development Undersecretary (commerce sector) Mihalis Chrysohoidis, discussions will get underway with doctors, lawyers as well as other professionals and technicians.

The purpose of the meetings is to reach agreements on tariff increases in all sectors at levels below inflation to enable the government's target of a 3 per cent inflation rate at the end of 1998 to be achieved.

WEATHER

Fine weather with some cloudiness will prevail throughout Greece today. Winds northerly, light to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 15-26C. Thessaloniki partly cloudy with temperatures from 14-23C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 276.857 Pound sterling 445.269 Cyprus pd 532.010 French franc 46.713 Swiss franc 190.533 German mark 156.905 Italian lira (100) 16.088 Yen (100) 229.410 Canadian dlr. 199.630 Australian dlr. 198.455 Irish Punt 414.894 Belgian franc 7.604 Finnish mark 52.366 Dutch guilder 139.341 Danish kr. 41.212 Swedish kr. 36.585 Norwegian kr. 38.563

(M.P.)


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