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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-12-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


ATHENS, GREECE, 02/12/1999 (ANA)


  • Karamanlis: Greece must ensure Cyprus' EU accession at Helsinki
  • New tender called for Olympic Village
  • US embassy tourism conference begins
  • Charter flight arrivals up 19.32 pct in October
  • Greek shipping register drops in October
  • Industrial production up 2.2 pct in Sept
  • Greek stocks remain under pressure
  • Conference on Parthenon Marbles ends without communique
  • Stephanopoulos in Lisbon for four-day visit
  • Greece wishes to co-produce weapons systems with Britain
  • Experts say number of new AIDS cases in Greece is steady
  • Minister favours state providing free methadone to young drug users
  • WWF welcomes decree for creation of National Park on Zakynthos
  • Albanian, Thessaloniki businessmen discuss possible cooperation
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Karamanlis: Greece must ensure Cyprus' EU accession at Helsinki

The leader of Greece's main opposition New Democracy party criticised the government yesterday for making unilateral concessions and giving in to pressure from Ankara.

"Greece is the only European Union country threatened by Turkey, which has designs on our country," ND leader Costas Karamanlis told a meeting of his party's parliamentary group.

"Turkey disdains international law, threatens the use of force and effectively uses force in its infringements of [Greek] air space," he said.

He said that Greece was a stabilising factor in the region, in contrast to Turkey which attempted the opposite.

Mr. Karamanlis said bilateral relations in the wake of earthquakes in both countries in August and September - dubbed 'seismic diplomacy' - had become comic, saying:

"Only those without knowledge of any history can equate sympathy with foreign policy."

It is up to Turkey itself whether it becomes a European country or remains a regional troublemaker, he said.

The prospect of Turkey being put on the list of candidate countries for EU entry would have "serious consequences", he said, because Ankara would in effect have linked up with European security mechanisms. This would result in European partners following a policy of keeping an equal distance between Greece and Turkey, effectively abolishing any solidarity with Greece. The country, he said, needed clear and tangible results in exchange for any moves it made.

Greece's leading priority at the EU summit in Helsinki, he said, must be ensuring Cyprus' accession to the EU on the basis of a specific timetable and independent of whether or not the island's political problem is resolved.

New tender called for Olympic Village

The Greek Olympic Committee is calling a new international tender for the architectural design of the Olympic Village that will house athletes and officials during the 2004 Olympic Games in the Greek capital, GOC president Lambis Nikolaou said yesterday.

Mr. Nikolaou, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), told a press conference the open tender was being called after the first tender was deemed inadequate.

Thirty-six architectural and engineering firms from Greece and abroad submitted designs in the initial tender in early August.

Mr. Nikolaou said that interested firms must submit their architectural study and master plan within 100 days, adding that a payment would be made to companies that passed the first evaluation and were short-listed.

Mr. Nikolaou said the tender would be published sometime in the next 10 days in the European Union Gazette.

The GOC president also announced that the committee was moving its headquarters from the Zappion Hall to a new building on Kifissias Avenue on April 1, 2000.

US embassy tourism conference begins

An international conference on boosting cooperation in tourism between Greece and neighbouring countries with around 30 US companies began in Athens yesterday, organised by the US embassy.

The conference, which is being held at the Astera Hotel in Vouliagmeni, lasts until tomorrow.

Entitled the International Tourism Infrastructure Conference '99, the event aims to provide a venue for companies to gain information and make business contacts.

US Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns, who has worked hard to introduce American investors to Greece, said that the country was fertile ground for tourism investments ahead of its planned entry into the euro zone on January 1, 2001.

Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said that the conference itself was indicative of US interest in the Greek tourism industry. It also showed other countries that Greece was a destination for tourism investments as well as a venue for holidays.

Charter flight arrivals up 19.32 pct in October

Passengers arriving in charter flights at the country's main airports, excluding the Athens Hellinikon international airport, totalled 413,532 in October from 346,564 in the same month of last year, an increase of 19.32 percent, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday.

The figures were for the airports of Thessaloniki, Corfu, Heracleion and Rhodes, which account for 60 percent of charter flights in the country.

In the same month, overnight stays in Greek hotels totalled 1,710,121, up from 1,499,552 in the same period last year, an increase of 14.04 percent.

The figures emerged from research in 273 hotels around the country, accounting for 60 percent of tourist overnight stays at hotels, the NSS said.

Greek shipping register drops in October

The Greek merchant fleet decreased by eight ships net in October, representing 419,821 gross registered tonnes (grt), the merchant marine ministry announced yesterday.

It said three vessels with a total capacity of 29,038 grt joined the Greek shipping registry last month, while 11 ships totalling 448,859 grt withdrew from the Greek flag.

The ministry said that the average age of the departing ships was 22 years, adding that nine of those vessels were sold to foreign shipowners, one switched to the Bahamas flag, and one was scrapped.

Industrial production up 2.2 pct in Sept

Greece's composite industrial production index, including mining, manufacturing and electricity-natural gas production, rose 2.2 percent in September compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said yesterday.

The electricity-natural gas production index increased by 24.5 percent in the same period, the manufacturing index rose 0.1 percent and the mining index fell by 21.4 percent. The electricity-natural gas production index rose 31.6 percent in the period January-September, compared with the corresponding period in 1998, the mining index fell 16 percent while the manufacturing index rose 0.4 percent.

Greek stocks remain under pressure

Equity prices lost ground in low turnover yesterday remaining under pressure for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange.

The general index ended 1.01 percent lower at 5,653.94 points, off the day's lows. Turnover was low at 247.1 billion drachmas.

The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks jumped 2.89 percent to 2,119.67 points, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 1.44 percent lower at 2,812.62 points.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 162 to 155 with another 15 issues unchanged.

National Bank of Greece ended at 22,940 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 25, 700, Commercial Bank at 23,650, Titan Cement (common) at 38,200, Hellenic Petroleum at 4,790, Intracom at 14,530, Minoan Lines at 9,260, Panafon at 3, 850 and Hellenic Telecoms at 6,895.

Conference on Parthenon Marbles ends without communique

The two-day conference on the issue of the "cleaning" of the Parthenon Marbles in the 1937-38 period, when they sustained damage, ended yesterday without the issuing of a communique or scientific findings. However, British historian William St. Clair, whose revelations concerning the damage caused an uproar 18 months ago, stated he was satisfied with the overall result of the conference, as the British Museum officially recognised for the first time that the 4th century BC friezes, removed from the Acropolis by Lord Elgin in 1806, were actually damaged just over 60 years ago.

"The British Museum acknowledged that the cleaning was a scandal, just as a cover-up attempt, which failed, was also a scandal," he said.

The head of a team of Greek experts who took part, Athens Polytechnic professor Theodoros Skoulikidis, described the conference as "arranged to suit the British Museum, in an obvious attempt at disorientation from the subject of the conference".

Members of the British Committee for the return of the Parthenon Marbles described the conference as "one sided and biased."

British Museum, director Robert Anderson, stated that the "Elgin Marbles will not leave the British Museum," but conceded that any final decision will be political.

Stephanopoulos in Lisbon for four-day visit

Greek President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister Christos Rokofyllos, arrived here yesterday for a four-day official visit, at the invitation of his Portuguese counterpart Jorge Sampaio.

Mr. Stephanopoulos is expected to inaugurate the new embassy building of Greece in Lisbon and later in the day to meet with Mr. Sampaio. Later in the afternoon, Mr. Stephanopoulos will visit Portugal's parliament and meet with the country's party par liamentary leadership.

He will also meet with Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Guterres and in the evening he will be hosted to an official dinner by Mr. Sampaio.

A delegation of Greek businessmen have accompanied Mr. Stephanopoulos to Portugal.

Greece wishes to co-produce weapons systems with Britain

Greece wishes to co-produce weapons systems with Britain, on an equal partnership basis, Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Apostolakis said yesterday, delivering the openning address of the Greek-English Defence Industries.

"Greece warmly supports the new course and organisations of the European Union and the Western European Union, for the creation of a joint policy in armaments," Mr. Apostolakis said.

"For Greece this is one-way policy choice in order to cover its defence needs. It is not acceptable anymore as far as the Greek economy is concerned, for us to only be customers, but to participate in the production of weapons systems, at the same percentage to that of our expenditures," he stressed, adding that the margins of cooperation between the industries of the two countries is large. "This cooperation should take place on an equal partnership basis. The needs of the Greek economy demand the participation of Greek defence industries in the co-production of weapons systems," he concluded.

Experts say number of new AIDS cases in Greece is steady

The number of new AIDS cases in Greece is steady but experts said yesterday that they were worried that the effect of information campaigns had failed to bring down the number.

Figures presented by the University of Athens place Greece around 10th of European countries in terms of the number of new AIDS cases.

"We are somewhere in the middle," Professor Angelos Hatzakis told a news conference on the occasion of World Day Against AIDS. Mr. Hatzakis said it was 'silly' to talk of high-risk groups and that the spread of the disease was now a risk for the general population. Intravenous drug users were most likely to contract AIDS, followed by heterosexuals, he said. Homosexual activity came further down the list.

In an address read out to reporters, Deputy Health Minister Theodoris Kotsonis said that in Greece, 35 of the 2,400 HIV infected patients were children, he said.

Minister favours state providing free methadone to young drug users

Deputy Health Minister Theodoris Kotsonis yesterday said he was in favour of the state providing free methadone and, possibly, heroin to young drug users.

The minister, speaking to reporters, said that he had broached the issue in talks with the prime minister but that these talks had not got to a formal stage.

"Hundreds of mainly young people have reached a desperate stage because of heroin and it is these that we see in Omonia, and others parts of the capital," Mr. Kotsonis said.

This group of users, who have no other options, he said, should be able to take advantage of free services and the controlled use of heroin, dispensed possibly by public hospitals.

Mr. Kotsonis said he expected there to be objections to this idea but that he wanted it discussed by all.

Representatives of drug users' support groups as well as the Union of Hospital Doctors immediately said they were opposed to the idea of the dispensing of methadone or heroin from outpatients clinics at general hospitals.

Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said: "My experience on the methadone programme, from the time I was minister of justice, has left me with a totally positive impresion.

WWF welcomes decree for creation of National Park on Zakynthos

The Presidential decree creating a National Park on the island of Zakynthos for the protection of the sea turtle was an important step forward, World Wildlife Fund Greece (WWF-Greece) President Dimitris Karavellas said yesterday. The Presidential decree is the product of long-time efforts by environmental organisations for the creation of a sea-park aiming at the complete protection of one of Greece's most important natural preserves for the Caretta-Caretta sea-turtle in the Mediterranean, he added. He also said that WWF-Greece will work hard for the successful application of the decree and called on all environmental organisations and local citizens to activelly participate in the effort.

Albanian, Thessaloniki businessmen discuss possible cooperation

Possibilities of cooperation between Albanian businessmen and their Greek colleagues from Thessaloniki were discussed at an economic forum in Tirana late on Tuesday.

The meeting, organised by the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Tirana and Thessaloniki, the Greek Embassy in Tirana and the Inter-Balkan Centre of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (DIPEK), was attended by 25 representatives of Greek companies from northern Greece which are interested in investments in Albania.

Albanian National Economy and Privatisations Minister Zef Preci said "the presence of Greek companies in Albania, and in the privatisations course in particular, is welcome."

"We will offer you all facilities for the entry of foreign capital into the country and we will be absolutely transparent," he added.

Greek Ambassador to Tirana Alexandros Mallias said Greece was second to Italy concerning the level of investments in Albania.

According to Mr. Mallias, Greek investments in Albania amount to about 100 million dollars. He said better cooperation between the two countries would also result in an inflow, through banks, into Albania and be used for investments of about 600 million dollars gained annually by Albanian economic immigrants working in Greece.

Over the past three years alone, Greece has provided Albania with 600 million dollars in the form of loans or aid.


Fine weather with local cloud in most parts Greece today with the possibility of showers from the afternoon in the southern Peloponnese and western Crete. Winds variable, light, turning moderate in the Aegean Sea. Mostly sunny in Athens with temperatures from 6-17C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0-14C.


Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          322.787
Pound sterling       516.356
Japanese yen (100)   315.456
French franc          49.694
German mark          166.667
Italian lira (100)    16.835
Irish Punt           413.898
Belgian franc          8.081
Finnish mark          54.825
Dutch guilder        147.919
Danish kr.            43.817
Austrian sch.         23.689
Spanish peseta         1.959
Swedish kr.           37.914
Norwegian kr.         40.017
Swiss franc          203.568
Port. Escudo           1.626
Can. dollar          218.200
Aus. dollar          205.537
Cyprus pound         566.571
Euro                 325.971
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