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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-04-02

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, 02/04/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Moscow dismisses Turkish threats over S-300 missiles
  • Simitis in London today for EU-Asia summit
  • Santer to hold talks in Greece next week
  • Tripartite Balkan meeting in Santorini next weekend
  • Group claims bomb attack on Labour undersecretary's office
  • Simitis on construction of DEH line at Kryoneri
  • Gov't adamant on pharmaceutical list
  • Andreas Papandreou Foundation scholarship
  • Greek stocks drop in technical correction
  • Public works ministry endorses credits of Dr. 11.2 bln
  • Greece expects over 750,000 French, Hungarian tourists in '98
  • Petrol prices rise today
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Moscow dismisses Turkish threats over S-300 missiles

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos held talks yesterday with his Russian counterpart Marshal Igor Sergeyev, who later dismissed Turkish threats against Cyprus in connection with the deployment of Russian-ma de S- 300 anti-aircraft missiles on the island republic.

"If there are S-300s, there will be no threats," Marshal Sergeyev said, adding that "as far as we are concerned, and regarding what depends on us, we will do everything that is required. In any case, President (Boris) Yeltsin told this to your minister himself."

The Russian defence minister was replying to a question by the ANA regarding Turkish threats against Cyprus over the S-300 deployment and how Russia would react in the event the threats were carried out.

Referring to the same issue after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Russia's position was "particularly impressive", "clear" and "decisive."

He said the position "leaves no ground for a misunderstanding. It supports absolutely and fully the right of the Republic of Cyprus to purchase and establish these missiles and that the issue of not using them will only exist with an overall agreement to demilitarise the island."

The Russian officials, starting from President Yeltsin, "did not mince their words" and neither did they do the same in offering assurances to him on the issue of the missiles for Cyprus.

Diplomatic observers in Moscow believe that Russian diplomacy does not take the Turkish threats seriously, and prefers to maintain a low-key approach on the issue. Of course, this does not mean that in Moscow's view there can be any doubt on the tremendous consequences of "menacing" scenarios wielded by Turkish circles, a development which is improbable in principle at present.

Commenting on the same issue, President Yeltsin's spokesman Sergei Yiastrizemsky reiterated that Moscow is determined to go through with the S- 300 contract, adding that once again President Yeltsin assured Mr. Tsohatzopoulos about this and that the latter thanked him for the assurances.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos had a series of contacts with all the Russian officials involved in defence and foreign policy, including Mr. Sergeyev, Mr. Primakov, government Vice-President Ivan Rubkin, the head of the Russian Security Council Andrei Kokoshin and the heads of Parliament's two legislative bodies, Yennadi Selezniov of the parliament (Duma) and Igor Stroev of the senate (Federation Council).

Both Mr. Tsohatzopoulos' meetings yesterday and that with President Yeltsin on Tuesday reveal the importance Moscow attaches to Greece and particularly bilateral cooperation in the defence sector.

Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yiastrizemsky said that Greek and Russian positions on the problems of Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq were convergent and placed particular emphasis on the two countries' support for the principles of free shipping through the straits to the Black Sea and through the Aegean.

The interest of the Greek side focused on specific cooperation plans and the possible purchase of Russian weapons systems for Greece's armaments programme.

Greek officials, wishing to retain their anonymity, made it understood that Athens would be prepared to ignore possible displeasure and pressures on the part of its allies and its main weapons suppliers and make, to some extent, an opening towards the Russian weapons market as well.

However, Athens will disregard these expected pressures to acquire technological and military advantages by obtaining high-technology weapons and weapons capable of solving specific defence problems.

Replying to a question by a Greek reporter on whether Russia accepts and will satisfy all of Athens' views on the creation of an "umbrella" over the Aegean, Marshal Sergeyev said that "this issue was examined and we found a positive solution for the creation of an umbrella with defence systems over the Aegean Sea."

Simitis in London today for EU-Asia summit

Prime Minister Costas Simitis will travel to London today at the head of a delegation representing Greece at a European Union-Asian countries summit, set to begin in the British capital.

The premier yesterday chaired a meeting to prepare for the summit, as well as for a special European Union summit in Brussels in early May, which will take final decisions for the third phase of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), commencing on Jan. 1, 1 999.

The meeting was attended by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis.

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos was unable to attend due to illness.

After the meeting, Mr. Papandreou told reporters the Europe-Asia summit was particularly important, while he underlined Greece's active contribution to tightening Euro-Asian relations.

The 10 Southeast Asian countries which are to meet with the EU include Japan, China and South Korea.

The meeting will be chaired by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, while it will also be attended by European Commission President Jacques Santer.

Issues on the agenda include mainly economic and political cooperation between Europe and Asia, followed by issues dealing with the environment, employment and child prostitution.

Santer to hold talks in Greece next week

European Union Commission President Jacques Santer will visit Athens next week for talks with the country's political leadership. During his four-day visit, beginning April 9, Mr. Santer will hold meetings with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis. He will also be received by President Kostis Stephanopoulos.

Mr. Santer will be the main speaker at an official dinner organised by the "Economist" magazine (a roundtable discussion with the Greek government) on the same day within the framework of a two-day conference entitled "Welcoming a new business era".

He will visit Crete the following day where he will address the island's producer groups. He will also tour various regions of the island that are recipients of European Union programme funds.

Tripartite Balkan meeting on Santorini next weekend

The foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania are expected to meet between April 10-11 on the island of Santorini, the Bulgarian foreign ministry announced yesterday.

The situation in the Balkans and the current Kosovo crisis will be the focus of the meeting.

According to the same sources, the presidents of Bulgaria, Petar Stojanov; Romania, Emil Constantinescu; and Turkey, Suleyman Demirel, are also expected to meet in Antalya, Turkey on the same issues.

Group claims bomb attack on Labour undersecretary's office

A group calling itself the "Children of November" has claimed responsibility for a makeshift gas-cannister bomb attack that damaged the political office of labour undersecretary Christos Protopapas yesterday afternoon. Another bomb went off outside the former office of labour minister Miltiades Papaioannou on a different floor in the same building.

The first bomb went off at the sixth-floor office of Labour and Social Security Undersecretary Christos Protopapas - 14, Sina St. - causing damages but no injuries, a fire department official said.

The other bomb went off at the third-floor offices vacated three months ago by Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou, according to reports.

Mr. Papaionnou said that this was an "act against the ordinary citizens, which is condemned by the Greek people" and added that such actions will not bend his will to serve the Greek people.

Mr. Protopapas said that "such abominable actions, from those who move in the dark, will not stop the work of the government for the working people and the public."

Simitis on construction of DEH line at Kryoneri

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday told Parliament that he has instructed the Public Power Corp. (DEH) to submit a new environmental study by April 15 for construction of a third north-south power line at the Kryoneri region of Attica.

He said the new study should be in accordance with the terms stipulated in a Council of State decision on the matter.

The premier was replying to questions by ruling PASOK deputy Ioannis Yiannakis and opposition New Democracy deputy Dora Bakoyianni, regarding DEHYs weakness in coping with emergencies and natural disasters, in the wake of a recent wave of poor weather and a subsequent power black- out.

Mr. Simitis used harsh language on the stance held by many Kryoneri residents - who have voiced objections and taken repeated legal action to block the construction of another high-voltage power line through their area - saying that "no one social group can selfishly hinder the completion of a project benefitting...society".

However, Mr. Yiannakis said residents could not be held accountable for natural or other disasters. Those who were to blame, he said, were those who could have constructed the required projects but did not.

In a related issue, Environment, Public Works and Town Planning Minister Costas Laliotis said 180 billion drachmas had been spent between 1994-98 to finance 141 projects for the capital's anti-flooding protection.

Of those projects, which according to Mr. Laliotis represent about 70 per cent of the total number of required projects for the specific purpose, 80 have already been completed, while 71 are currently underway and another 38 will be up for tender soon, costing a further 60 billion drachmas.

Gov't adamant on pharmaceutical list

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas termed the establishment of a pharmaceuticals list as an incision which restructures the sector.

He said the list is in effect in all developed countries and was created following a study made by Prof. Moutsopoulos.

Commenting on the issue yesterday, Mr. Reppas said that the phenomenon of multiple medicine prescriptions will be tackled in this way, adding that 600 billion drachmas were spent last year - about 2 per cent of GDP - for medicines.

Andreas Papandreou Foundation scholarship

The Andreas G. Papandreou Foundation yesterday announced an international competition for one scholarship to a specific one-year study programme at Harvard.

The subject matter of the study includes international politics and finance, European development, international cultural or technological developments, international politics of the environment or international relations in general.

The competition is open to graduate degree holders as well as those with significant work experience in the aforementioned fields, while it is not limited to academics.

The application deadline is April 10. For further information, call Nikos Kotzias at 3394078, e-mail: Kotzias&mfa.gr or Frances Tsakonas at 3394074, e-mail: frances&hol.gr

Greek stocks drop in technical correction

Greek equities fell for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday with the general index ending below the 2,000-point resistance level at 1,988.78 points, off 0.85 percent.

Investors were wary ahead of a parliament vote expected next week on a bill to restructure Olympic Airways but sentiment remained positive and short- term gains were likely, traders said.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 70.9 billion drachmas.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks fell 0.77 percent, Insurance rose 0.12 percent, Leasing dropped 0.14 percent, Investment ended 1.20 percent off, Construction eased 2.46 percent, Industrials fell 0.91 percent, Miscellaneous soared 4.13 percent and Hold ing dropped 1.02 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.25 percent while the FTSE/ASE-20 index fell 1.21 percent to 1,172.41 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 138 to 83 with another 32 issues unchanged.

Ippotour, Phaliro Medical, European Credit and Euromedica scored the biggest percentage gains at the day's 8.0 percent limit up. Lanakam, Sportsman, Ellatex, Mohlos and Remek suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank of Greece ended at 35,345 drac hmas, Ergobank at 22,800, Alpha Credit Bank at 23,595, Delta Dairy at 3,385, Titan Cement at 22,750, Intracom at 18,200 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 7,860.

In the domestic interbank market, the drachma lost substantial ground against the DMark, the Ecu and the US dollar.

Public works ministry endorses credits of Dr. 11.2 bln

The public works ministry yesterday endorsed credits of 11.2 billion drachmas for roadbuilding, airport, port, flood prevention and drainage projects nationwide.

The projects are as follows:

Roadbuilding

  • Improvements to the Kiato-Souli-Goura-Derveni highway in the Corinth prefecture, budgeted at two billion drachmas
  • Serres link to Egnatia highway, Mesorahis-Lefkotheas section, budgeted at 1.1 billion drachmas
  • Construction of a junction for Patras' northern access road and Mikri Perimetriki, budgeted at 700 million drachmas
  • Construction of a section of the Patras-Tripoli motorway from Taraboura to Glafko, budgeted at 360 million drachmas
Airport
  • Extension of the main airport building on Samos, budgeted at 4.859 billion drachmas Port
  • Construction of a service network for jetties in Kerkyra harbour, budgeted at 200 million drachmas
Flood prevention
  • Construction works for a river gully in the Halkidiki prefecture, budgeted at 38 million drachmas
  • Construction for a river gully in the Serres prefecture, budgeted at 31.5 million drachmas
Drainage
  • Construction of a drainage channel and pavements in Lehaina, Ilia prefecture, budgeted at 200 million drachmas

Greece expects over 750,000 French, Hungarian tourists in '98

More than 750,000 tourists from France and Hungary are expected to visit Greece in 1998, according to estimates by tour operators from the two countries.

That was the message conveyed to the Greek National Tourism Organisation's president, Yiannis Stephanidis, yesterday during a visit he paid to international tourism exhibitions in Paris and Budapest.

In Budapest, local tour operators confirmed that more than 230,000 Hungarian tourists will visit Greece this year.

In Paris, French tour operators said that after two consecutive bad years of tourist arrivals from France, a recovery was expected in 1998 with the number of French visitors to Greece expected to exceed 500,000.

Petrol prices rise today

Gas prices will increase as of today and for one week.

According to announcements by the Public Petroleum Corp. (DEP) and the development ministry, the retail sales prices of gasoline will increase by 2.30 drachmas per litre, diesel by 3.20 drachmas per litre and heating oil by 2.60 drachmas per litre. The price of heating oil was set at 91.10 drachmas per litre.

In the Attica region and Thessaloniki prefecture, super gasoline will cost 218.20 drachmas per litre and unleaded gasoline 202.30 drachmas per litre.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather with risimng temperatures is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Local rain in parts of the southeastern islands. Local fog in the morning. Winds westerly, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 5-19C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-17C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 319.424 British pound 537.307 Japanese Yen(100) 239.717 French franc 51.640 German mark 172.906 Italian lira (100) 17.536 Irish Punt 434.992 Belgian franc 8.394 Finnish mark 56.961 Dutch guilder 153.557 Danish kr. 45.392 Austrian sch. 24.582 Spanish peseta 2.039 Swedish kr. 39.997 Norwegian kr. 41.845 Swiss franc 209.282 Port. Escudo 1.689 AUS dollar 211.539 Can. dollar 225.382 Cyprus pound 595.021

(C.E.)


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