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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-04-30

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, 30/04/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Aftershock shakes Kalamata
  • International law on Athens side
  • FM says Olympic Airways should shut
  • No Cyprus-EU accession 'a problem'
  • Premier brushes off talk of new devaluation
  • Simitis calls Turkish threat 'strong'
  • Gov't backs Pangalos over recent Chirac criticism
  • Athens condemns dismissals of two Turkish journalists
  • Kozloduy issue raised during Simitis' recent Sofia visit
  • Greece and Italy call for strong Albanian military
  • Defence minister to visit Sweden
  • Papoutsis voices concern over lifting of cabotage
  • Ecumenical Patriarch on new Greek Prelate's election
  • Cutbacks in expenditures envisioned
  • Auction for state securities
  • German tourist agents visit Crete
  • State telecom share sale raises 126 bln for state coffer
  • Gov't backs economic diplomacy
  • Port of Piraeus definitely set for privatisation
  • Panionios wins 1997-98 football Cup
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Aftershock shakes Kalamata

The Athens Geodynamic Institute reported today that it had recorded an earthquake registering 5.0 on the Richter scale, an aftershock of the 5.9 quake yesterday which originated from the seabed 120 kms south of the Peloponnese city of Kalamata. There were no reports of injuries or damage. The quake was registered at 1.59 p.m. local time. Seismologist Vassilis Karakostas told the ANA that there was no cause for alarm as the epicenter of the quake was situated a distance from any built-up area, off the coast of the Peloponnese. He said that the area was prone to aftershocks in the wake of yesterday's quake. The largest of these aftershocks yesterday registered 4.2.

International law on Athens side

International law and the Treaty of Lausanne clearly define the Greek sovereignty of islands and islets in the Aegean, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said today. Speaking at a flag-raising ceremony on the MEKO- 200 frigate "Psarra", the second of three being constructed by the Skaramanga Shipyards, Tsohatzopoulos said that if Turkey had any doubts about the sovereignty of islands in the Aegean then it should refer to the International Court of Justice at The Hague to get this clear answer.

FM says Olympic Airways should shut

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, in an interview published today in Athens daily Eleftherotypia, proposes that Olympic Airways be shut down and criticised workers for their stance on the latest developments at the national carrier. Pangalos said the main responsibility for the problems lies with governments but that workers were also responsible and that he had told late prime minister Andreas Papandreou to close the carrier. "And I think this is the only solution. There is no other solution," Pangalos said.

No Cyprus-EU accession 'a problem'

Foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos said today there would be no European Union enlargement if anyone created a political problem over Cyprus' accession. "If a political problem is created in Cyprus' accession course, this would undermine the smooth function of the EU itself and consequently there will be no enlargement," Pangalos said in an interview with the Athens afternoon daily Eleftherotypia. Cyprus, he said, was part of package with the other membership candidates. Negotiations would be held separately with each candidate and each candidate would be judged on the basis of its pros and cons, the minister added.

Premier brushes off talk of new devaluation

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday dismissed media reports that a second devaluation of the drachma was pending.

Reports of a new devaluation have been fuelled by speculation that a European Union summit over the weekend to launch the euro will readjust the parities of currencies in the EU's Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). "(The rumours) are absurdities coming from speculators who want to recoup the money they lost in the March devaluation," Mr. Simitis told a meeting of the ruling PASOK Parliamentary group.

Simitis calls Turkish threat 'strong'

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday said the Turkish threat was strong and the government did not underestimate it. Addressing the ruling PASOK's Parliamentary group, Mr. Simitis also warned that Greece should not be dragged into a "mentality of rhetoric", which only benefitted Turkey. The premier further said that Greece was not opposed to Turkey's European orientation, adding however, that Athens' acceptance hinged on such conditions as Ankara's acceptance of international treaties, its contribution to a resolution of the Cyprus pro blem and improvement of its relations with Greece.

Gov't backs Pangalos over recent Chirac criticism

The government fully shares Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos' concern and interest in vigorously promoting Athens' positions and defending national rights, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday in reply to a question regarding the Greek FM's harsh criticism this week of French President Jacques Chirac. Mr. Reppas said that it was not the French president that provoked criticism by the Greek foreign minister, but Paris' policy in terms of EU-Turkey and Greek-Turkish relations, saying France finds it difficult to understand the reason why Athens was ins isting on maintaining its veto of the EU financial protocol for Ankara. France repeatedly has supported the unconditional withdrawal of the Greek veto for EU aid to Ankara.

Athens condemns dismissals of two Turkish journalists

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said that the firing from a major Turkish daily of two Turkish columnists on Tuesday is a reaffirmation that democracy does not function in that country and that human rights are not respected. In a related development, Eurodeputy Yiannis Roumbatis denounced the actions against "Sabah's" Mehmet Ali Birand and Cengiz Kandar to the European Commission and the European Union Council of Ministers in Brussels.

Kozloduy issue raised during Simitis' recent Sofia visit

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said that during his recent visit to Bulgaria, Prime Minister Costas Simitis emphatically raised the issue of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant. He was responding to a question concerning the construction of a nuclear power plant on the southwestern coast of Turkey. Mr. Reppas said that according to Athens' information, construction of the plant has not proceeded and that the entire process is at a preliminary stage. He further said that Greece is following the issue and its development.

Greece and Italy call for strong Albanian military

The defence ministers of Greece and Italy pledged on Wednesday to help rebuild Albania's military so that it can effectively defend its borders in view of the escalating crisis in neighbouring Kosovo. "Greece and Italy have a joint responsibility to support the Albanian military so that it can defend its borders on its own," Italian Defence Minister Beniamino Andreatta told reporters after talks with his Greek counterpart Akis Tsohatzopoulos. Both Greece and Italy sent troops to Albania last year as part of a multinational force to restore order in the poor Balkan nation after widespread disturbances.

Defence minister to visit Sweden

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will pay an official visit to Sweden from May 17-19 at the invitation of his Swedish counterpart Bjorn von Sydow. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will also meet with Swedish Foreign Minister Lena Hjelm Wallen and visit the installations of electronics giant LM Eriksson.

Papoutsis voices concern over lifting of cabotage

The likely adoption of a text on coastal shipping by the EU's ship-ping ministers' council, containing a series of amendments of the EU Directive on cabotage, will have adverse effects on Greek shipping, according to EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis. Athens' concerns are focused on the number of crewmembers on passenger ships and their working hours.

Ecumenical Patriarch on new Greek Prelate's election

Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos stated yesterday that he is looking forward to a "close and friendly" cooperation with new Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos. "We are particularly close with the new Archbishop, we are friends," he told ANA, stressing their "strong spiritual link". "We are looking forward to receiving him at the Ecumenical Patriarchate with particular joy," he said, adding that he hopes to visit Athens soon after.

Cutbacks in expenditures envisioned

Expenditures contained in the 1999 budget will freeze in order to facilitate a decrease in the deficit, according to a target set by the Convergence Programme. Considerable cutbacks are anticipated in special categories of expenditures, such as operational expenses (electricity, water, telephone, etc), transport costs and civil servants' travel expenses. Cutbacks in expenses are anticipated in a circular on the preparation of the 1999 budget, expected to be sent to all ministries and public agencies next week, to enable them to start processes for a new budget. The main points in the circular were annou nced beforehand by Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis.

Auction for state securities

An auction of state securities will be held on May 4, according to an announcement by the finance ministry. The date of issue and settlement will be May 6, 1998. The securities to be auctioned will be treasury bills of a three-month duration amounting to 70 billion drachmas and six-month T-bills amounting to 50 billion drachmas.

German tourist agents visit Crete

Some 800 tourist agents from Germany recently visited Crete for a presentation of tourism-related programmes and their further acquaintance with Crete. The seminar was also attended by the Greek National Tourist Organisation's (EOT) director in Germany, Platon Davakis. The German tourist agents were invited by the Codor, Air Marin, Fischer Reisen and Kreutzer firms and were hosted by the Maris Hotels group.

State telecom share sale raises 126 bln for state coffer

The sale of 3.5 percent of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) to Greek and foreign institutional investors raised 126 billion drachmas, Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday. The private placement carried out this week, brings the total of shares sold to private investors to around 24 percent of the state telecom's share capital, Mr. Christodoulakis said.

Gov't backs economic diplomacy

Economic diplomacy could play a key role in creating permanent cooperation among Balkan states, Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told a meeting of foreign diplomats yesterday. Mr. Pangalos underlined Greece's strong presence in the European Union's financial aid programmes (PHARE, TACIS) and in SECI, a US initiative to promote administration infrastructure in the Balkans and adaptation to a free market economy. He stressed the need for the creation of a communications network among Balkan states in transport, telecommunications, energy and information.

Port of Piraeus definitely set for privatisation

Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis repeated that the port of Piraeus would be modernised through privatisation, a move that has brought protests from dockworkers unions. The transition, which would not be accomplished hastily, was being studied, Mr. Soumakis told a news conference yesterday.

Panionios wins 1997-98 Football Cup

The underrated Panionios Nea Smyrni club beat cross-town power Panathinaikos Athens 1-0 yesterday to win the 1997-98 Greek football Cup. The only goal of the match was posted in the 53rd minute with a short header. The Nea Smyrni team finished with nine players, following two players' exit with red cards. President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos watched the game and later awarded the Cup to the Panionios side.

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today with scattered showers in eastern Macedonia, Thrace, the islands of the eastern Aegean, and the Dodecanese. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 10-22C. Possibility of scattered showers in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 9- 21C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)

U.S. dollar 313.502 British pound 523.538 Japanese yen(100) 237.812 French franc 52.078 German mark 174.622 Italian lira (100) 17.674 Irish Punt 441.400 Belgian franc 8.460 Finnish mark 57.625 Dutch guilder 155.099 Danish kr. 45.801 Austrian sch. 24.822 Spanish peseta 2.058 Swedish kr. 40.519 Norwegian kr. 42.061 Swiss franc 209.753 Port. Escudo 1.708 Aus. dollar 204.347 Can. dollar 218.637 Cyprus pound 596.886

(M.P.)


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