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A.N.A. Bulletin, 29/02/96

From: "Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada" <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 825), February 29, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Rion-Antirrion bridge contract goes to Parliament for ratification

  • [2] Parliament to hear debate on IGC positions, economy

  • [3] Economy ministers stress need to continue stabilization policies

  • [4] GSEE representatives meet with premier

  • [5] Manginas

  • [6] Reppas comments on Ciller statements

  • [7] Pangalos briefs foreign affairs c'tee on recent developments

  • [8] ND deputies request answers from Pangalos, Arsenis over Imia press reports

  • [9] NATO head begins Athens visit today

  • [10] EU presidency representative on Cyprus meets with Pangalos

  • [11] Tsohatzopoulos, Romeos in Bangkok for inaugural Europe-Asia summit

  • [12] President regularly briefed by premier, Reppas says

  • [13] Papandreou's condition improving

  • [14] Patras prison riot under control, Venizelos says

  • [15] Larissa disturbance

  • [16] Evert chairs ND Political Council

  • [17] Skandalidis comments on party congress

  • [18] Reppas meets with CNA representatives

  • [19] Run-off for Athens Bar president set for the weekend

  • [20] Greek businessmen in Skopje to examine investment possibilities

  • [21] Greek trade fair in FYROM a success

  • [22] Albanian church condemns bomb attack in Tirana

  • [23] Athens reaffirms commitment to convergence programme

  • [24] Sfiriou meets with Ukrainian minister on merchant marine co-operation

  • [25] EU funds restorations in Macedonia

  • [26] Vasso Papandreou pledges better tourist services at airports, ports this year

  • [27] Banks demonstrate interest in OTE float

  • [28] Increased private investment interest seen for Eastern Macedonia-Thrace


  • [1] Rion-Antirrion bridge contract goes to Parliament for ratification

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    The 210-billion-drachma contract for the construction of the Rion-Antirrion bridge, a project set to radically alter road communications in western Greece, was tabled in Parliament for ratification last night.

    The contract, signed on January 3 between the state and the two joint ventures Gefyra S.A and Koinopraxia Gefyra, foresees that exploitation by the contractor will last 35 years, with a state option to reduce that period.

    This option was anticipated by a clause on the compulsory reduction of the granting and delivering period of the project to the state, if and when the predestined yield level of the contractor's invested capital is achieved. This yield was set at 11.5 per cent in real ECU.

    According to the contractor's bid, the awarding period had been set at 42 years, namely seven years for study and construction and 35 years for exploitation. However, according to assessments by the project's fiscal adviser, the above capital yield might be achieved after 18-23 years of the project's operation.

    The contract sets out that preliminary work can start immediately after its ratification in Parliament. The period of studies and preliminary work is estimated to last about two years, a period of time considered reasonable due to the project's complexity and originality and the extent of difficulties in necessary studies.

    The construction period is expected to last five years at the most.

    The anticipated link is composed of a cable bridge with two lanes of traffic in each direction, five openings 305, 560, 560,560 and 305 meters long, with four pillars in the sea, two access bridges on each side having a total length of 378 and 252 meters respectively, a toll checkpoint and a road section with two lanes in each direction having a total length of 600 meters on the side of Antirrio. This means work will cover a total length of 3.5 km.

    The bridge's pillars will be made of concrete and will rest on the seabed at a depth ranging from 45 to 62 meters. The structure of the cable bridge will be a mixed construction of steel and concrete.

    The state's financial contribution towards building the bridge will amount to 200 m. ECU at 1-7-93 prices, adjusted in accordance with tendering conditions.

    The contractor's own participation for 46.5 m. ECU at 1-7-93 prices will be adjusted annually.

    A loan for 320 m. ECU is expected to be given by the European Bank and is expected to last 25 years. Interest is expected to be paid over the first eight years of the loan period.

    [2] Parliament to hear debate on IGC positions, economy

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Greece's political leaders will come together in Parliament twice in March to discuss the 1996 inter-governmental conference and the course of the Greek economy.

    The first meeting will take place on March 18 at the initiative of main opposition New Democracy party.

    The second meeting will take place on March 22 after a suggestion by Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras.

    [3] Economy ministers stress need to continue stabilization policies

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday chaired a three-hour meeting on the economy, with the participation of National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos, and the prime minister's economic adviser Tassos Yiannitsis.

    The meeting was aimed at better coordination between ministries and the harmonization of policies. It was also in the context of preparation for the prime minister's wide-ranging press conference today, and Friday's Cabinet meeting, which will be devote d to economic matters.

    According to sources, the premier will place emphasis on the continuation of stabilization policies, particularly in further reducing inflation and boosting public revenues, the speeding up of large projects and securing funding for them, and strengthening the government's 'social profile'.

    During yesterday's meeting, sources said, the ministers of national economy and finance and the central bank governor warned that it was necessary to continue the strict fiscal, incomes and monetary policies applied over the last two years.

    They proposed that the stabilization policies continue for at least three years.

    Mr. Papantoniou estimated that inflation will have dropped below the 8 per cent mark by June, and that 1996 will be a year of effective recovery, and will mark the beginning of a faster rate of growth.

    Mr. Papademos was categorical concerning the need to keep wage increases at reasonable levels, and added that the Bank of Greece will maintain a stable drachma parity this year.

    [4] GSEE representatives meet with premier

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Earlier, Mr. Simitis described as "parti-cularly constructive" talks he had with the presidium of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE).

    The meeting was also attended by Labor Minister Evangelos Yannopoulos.

    Mr. Simitis said yesterday's talks would serve as the starting point for a broader dialogue between the government, employers and trade unions with the aim of attaining social consensus on issues related to public finances policy, development measures and social protection.

    He announced the formation of a committee made up of government officials and representatives of the GSEE and pensioners organization, whose task it will be to make specific proposals. Mr. Simitis promised that decisions on pensions would be taken by the end of June.

    On efforts to combat unemployment, Mr. Simitis said he had instructed the labor minister to speed up the processing of proposals in order for them to take the form of a draft bill. He added that a date had been set for the inner cabinet to discuss the problem and decisions were expected by the end of April.

    GSEE President Christos Protopapas described as "positive" the positions put forward by Mr. Simitis and Mr. Yannopoulos but stressed that the government would be judged on the basis of "results, decisions and acts" and not dialogue.

    Mr. Protopapas said that Mr. Yannopoulos had promised a ten per cent increase in unemployment benefits as of July 1 this year and a further ten per cent rise on July 1, 1997.

    Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Yannopoulos said the government would reduce current unemployment figures by 20 per cent in 1996.

    [5] Manginas

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Vassilis Manginas said the meeting between the prime minister and GSEE had been "unjustifiably delayed."

    Mr. Manginas said the meeting ought to have been held prior to the government's submission of policy statements in Parliament.

    Opposition Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras yesterday said the Greek people were confronted "by a government which cannot serve a society of people, because it is constantly faced with the reasoning of numbers."

    In another development, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou held a meeting with GSEE representatives, and representatives from the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB), Greece's Technical Chamber, and the federation of OTE employees (OME-OTE) focusing on draft agreements between private companies and public utilities.

    [6] Reppas comments on Ciller statements

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    "Turkey's (caretaker) Prime Minister Tansu Ciller is gloating for no reason," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday, commenting on Turkish statements concerning a text issued by the Italian presidency of the EU on Greek-Turkish relations.

    Mr. Reppas also expressed the hope that Ms Ciller "will stop being possessed by anxiety about whether she will remain in power or not and to decide to follow international law and have recourse to the International Court of Justice at The Hague if she believes problems exist which need resolving."

    EU Council of Ministers President Susanna Agnelli said on Monday in Brussels that EU foreign ministers agreed that Greek-Turkish differences should be resolved only by law and, consequently, the International Court at The Hague.

    Ms Ciller said yesterday that she was pleased with the outcome of Monday's meeting in Brussels.

    Replying to questions on press reports concerning Turkish designs in Thrace, northern Greece, Mr. Reppas said that with the foreign policy it follows, Turkey from time to time created problems in its relations with Greece.

    The spokesman urged Greece's European partners to understand that Turkey's foreign policy was dangerous and should be confronted jointly by the entire EU.

    In another development, an ANA dispatch from Istanbul said that Turkish President Suleyman Demirel held talks yesterday with the Turkish Ambassador to Athens, who was called back to Turkey last week.

    Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Omer Akbel said the ambassador would be in Ankara "for as long as it is necessary."

    [7] Pangalos briefs foreign affairs c'tee on recent developments

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday briefed Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on Greek-Turkish relations and the results of the recent meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels.

    Responding to a question by ruling PASOK party deputies George Mangakis and Lefteris Veryvakis as to why Greece threatened to veto Community funds for Turkey, Mr. Pangalos said Greece was obliged to use the most powerful weapon at its disposal because, due to the recent events on the islet of Imia, Turkey had violated all the agreements concerning its customs association with the EU.

    He said the British veto on the final text of a statement by the ministers' meeting was the decision of Prime Minister John Major, adding that, as far as Greece was concerned, Turkey's customs union with the European Union was in no way connected to Cyprus' entry to the EU.

    Many opposition deputies requested the presence of National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis at the committee to answer questions on the country's stance during the recent Greek-Turkish crisis and the causes of the helicopter crash.

    [8] ND deputies request answers from Pangalos, Arsenis over Imia press reports

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party deputies George Sourlas and Alexandros Papadogonas submitted a question in Parliament yesterday on the recent Imia crisis for Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis.

    The question referred to publications in the press stating that it was not possible for a memorial to be placed on the Imia islet in memory of the three naval officers who lost their lives in a helicopter crash on the night of the crisis, due to the appearance of Turkish military ships on the scene. The ND deputies asked the ministers if the status quo ante is still valid for Imia and the adjoining Greek islets, and if so, why the event scheduled to take place on Imia was canceled with the appearance o f Turkish ships.

    [9] NATO head begins Athens visit today

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana begins a two-day visit to Athens today for talks on issues concerning Greece's ties with the Alliance and Greek-Turkish relations.

    Mr. Solana is due to have talks today with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and, later in the evening, with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    Tomorrow, the NATO chief will visit the national defense ministry for talks with Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis before being received by President Kostis Stephanopoulos at noon.

    Mr. Solana will also have talks with main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert.

    [10] EU presidency representative on Cyprus meets with Pangalos

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Federico di Roberto, the Italian EU presidency's representative on the Cyprus problem, yesterday met with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    No statements were made after the talks but it is believed they focused on Cyprus' relations with the European Union.

    [11] Tsohatzopoulos, Romeos in Bangkok for inaugural Europe-Asia summit

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Alternate Foreign Minister George Romeos will represent Greece at the first Europe-Asia Summit which starts today in Bangkok.

    The summit will take place with the participation of state and government leaders and ministers and discuss issues concerning the promotion of political dialogue between Europe and Asia, economic co-operation and co-operation in various fields.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and Mr. Romeos will focus on the European Union's Euro-Mediterranean policy on security issues in Asia and Europe and the reinforcement of economic co-operation between the two continents.

    Mr. Romeos will address the summit on the "Promotion of Economic Co-operation, Trade, Investments and Technology."

    [12] President regularly briefed by premier, Reppas says

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters yesterday that President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos was regularly briefed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on developments in current issues.

    He made the statement when asked whether Mr. Simitis intended to brief Mr. Stephanopoulos on the content of his European tour.

    The spokesman said the president had already been informed by Mr. Simitis on the outcome of his visits to Brussels, Bonn and Paris, adding that it was possible the two men might also meet in person.

    The spokesman added that the prime minister had a telephone conversation with ruling PASOK leader Andreas Papandreou on current issues and had passed on messages from European leaders to Mr. Papandreou.

    Commenting on former prime minister and main opposition New Democracy honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis' meeting with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos on Tuesday night, Mr. Reppas said the meeting had taken place as part of the latter's offer to brief all political parties on foreign policy issues.

    Mr. Reppas said that Mr. Mitsotakis' views on the recent crisis in Greek-Turkish relations were in line with the government's position.

    [13] Papandreou's condition improving

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Yesterday's bulletin on the condition of PASOK president Andreas Papandreou said his condition was developing normally, with an intensive programme of chest physiotherapy and kinesiotherapy continuing.

    Doctors said that certain minor side-effects, in the form of minor infections arising from the application of a permanent fistula for kidney dialysis, were causing some uncertainty as to the exact date of Mr. Papandreou's release from hospital.

    It is not expected that this date will be before March 10.

    [14] Patras prison riot under control, Venizelos says

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Justice Minister Evangelos Venizelos told journalists late last night that the situation at the Ayios Stefanos Prison in Patras was under control after inmates, most of them foreign, rioted yesterday afternoon.

    He said negotiations were underway with inmates still holding four prison guards hostage and that one of the hostages had already been released for health reasons and that the other four were unharmed.

    According to reports, four or five inmates escaped from the prison during the uprising, in what Mr. Venizelos said appeared to be a pre-arranged jail-break.

    According to reports, prisoners fought with guards and took over a section of the prison.

    Three platoons of riot police had been sent to the prison to help correctional officers regain control, while dense smoke was seen rising from the facility's kitchen and storage areas. Firefighters were ordered to the scene to combat the fires, reports state.

    Gunfire was heard late in the afternoon, which according to other press reports, was from guards on watchtowers around the prison. In addition, three individuals were transported to a nearby hospital with respiratory problems and light injuries. It was not reported if the three injured men were guards or inmates.

    A bevy of judicial, government and police officials had descended on the prison at time of going to press.

    It was also announced yesterday that the justice ministry had ordered increased security at the facility and transfer of all weapons at the prison.

    Inmates had presented a series of demands to the justice ministry one month ago, including a reduction in prison overcrowding and separation of drug offenders from the rest of the prison population.

    Approximately 80 per cent of inmates held at the Patras facility are drug offenders, while 260 are foreigners, of which about 150 are Albanian nationals.

    A ministry reply to their demands was pending.

    [15] Larissa disturbance

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Tension was also reported yesterday at Larissa Prison after inmates learned of the uprising at the Patras correctional facility.

    Prisoners in the unit's second wing attempted to create disturbances at around 7pm during the distribution of medicines before jailers stepped in to avoid a crisis.

    Some 40 extra police officers were dispatched to the prison as a precautionary measure. According to reports, two inmates were transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital at 8pm. One of the two inmates was apparently beaten by other prisoners, while t he other suffered from an epileptic seizure, reports state.

    [16] Evert chairs ND Political Council

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert yesterday chaired a party Political Council meeting focusing on the party's strategy and opposition tactics.

    Party spokesman Vassilis Manginas told reporters after the meeting that "the government's course till now is sealed with failures" while forecasting "that the crisis in Greek-Turkish relations will be more acute."

    Stating that ND "is a political force of responsibility, credibility and prospects," the spokesman said the party will continue to criticize the government's mistakes in foreign policy and will undertake new initiatives for the promotion of national issues.

    Mr. Manginas said the government would be judged on its record in economic and social issues and criticized it for not promoting institutional reforms.

    Deputy party leader Ioannis Varvitsiotis proposed that a shadow government be formed within New Democracy in order to promote the views of the opposition to different sectors more efficiently.

    Mr. Evert did not rule out the possibility.

    [17] Skandalidis comments on party congress

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said yesterday that he did not fear friction within the party ahead of the party congress, due to take place in July.

    Mr. Skandalidis stressed that the lead-up to a congress "always has some friction" but that this was "a secondary feature". He expressed his conviction that "the work that will be done will be so important and productive, ... that any possible friction will be reduced to the minimum and we will move on to what we are all aiming for - a Congress of unity ... and prospects."

    Mr. Skandalidis said he could not comment on the views expressed by former press minister Telemahos Hytiris regarding possible claims to the premiership by Andreas Papandreou.

    [18] Reppas meets with CNA representatives

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas held a meeting yesterday with Cyprus News Agency representatives visiting Athens for the signing of a co-operation agreement with the Athens News Agency.

    CNA's Chairman of the Board Anthos Lykavges and Director Andreas Christofides briefed the press minister on efforts to modernize the CNA's services, stressing its importance for the briefing of international opinion on national issues.

    Mr. Reppas stressed the importance of national news agencies, adding that co-operation between the two agencies "will help Hellenism's efforts on our national issues considerably."

    Earlier in the day, the CNA representatives visited the offices of the Athens Union of Journalists (ESHEA) and exchanged views on the upgrading of information concerning national issues.

    [19] Run-off for Athens Bar president set for the weekend

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    The run-off election for president of the Athens Bar Association on Sunday and Monday will be held between Antonis Roupakiotis (supported by the Coalition of the Left and Progress) and Constantine Dailianas (PASOK) who won first and second place in last Sunday's first round.

    New Democracy-supported candidate Sotiris Polydoras came third and was knocked out of the run-off.

    With 95 per cent of ballots counted and out of 9,784 valid votes, Mr. Roupakiotis polled 2,552 votes (26.08 per cent), Mr. Dailianas 2,117 (21.64 per cent), Mr. Polydoras 1,768 (18.007 per cent), Dimitris Paxinos (an independent supported by ND) 1,437 (14.69 per cent), Vassilis Dimopoulos (Communist Party of Greece) 566 (5.78 per cent), Theocharis Vasilakis 455 (4.12 per cent), Evangelos Kouris 483 (4.12 per cent) and Anastasios Kefaleas 257 (2.63 per cent).

    [20] Greek businessmen in Skopje to examine investment possibilities

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    A Greek business delegation headed by Dimitris Pletis, coordinator of bilateral economic co-operation at the foreign ministry, will be in Skopje today to examine the possibility of Greek investors participating in the neighboring country's privatization projects.

    The delegation is visiting Skopje at the initiative of Greece's liaison office in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in line with bilateral consultations held in Skopje on February 1-2.

    The delegation, the first to be supervised by the Greek foreign ministry, is expected to carve out the beginning of economic co-operation between businessmen in the two countries.

    [21] Greek trade fair in FYROM a success

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    An exhibition of Greek products in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was a major success, its organizers said yesterday.

    The three-day display, organized by private Greek investors, attracted more than 15,000 visitors who had the opportunity to view the products of 100 Greek enterprises, ranging from food and clothing to heavy machinery.

    The exhibit was attended by FYROM Foreign Under-secretary Viktor Gabber.

    Meanwhile, the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SEBE) is preparing a trade mission to Skopje.

    [22] Albanian church condemns bomb attack in Tirana

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    The Orthodox Church of Albania yesterday condemned Monday's bomb attack on a supermarket in Tirana in which four persons were killed.

    An announcement issued by Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania said the Orthodox Church "unequivocally condemns all forms of violence and terrorism, which is contrary to God's will."

    Archbishop Anastasios said he was "deeply grieved by this abhorrent terrorist action", adding the hope that light would be shed on the case and that those who were trying to disrupt Albania's course towards stability and prosperity would be uncovered.

    The announcement also expressed the Archbishop's condolences to the families of the victims of the attack.

    [23] Athens reaffirms commitment to convergence programme

    Brussels, 29/02/1996 (ANA - M. Savva)

    During a debate in the European Parliament's Regional Policy Committee yesterday, also attended by Greek MPs and employer and union representatives, National Economy Undersecre-tary Christos Pachtas said that the Greek government would adhere to the convergence programme with other European economies "even if its social repercussions are not satisfactory".

    "Adherence to the convergence programme must be the criterion for additional support to the weakest member-states," he added.

    PASOK Eurodeputy Costas Klironomos, who presented a working text on "the development problems related to structural interventions in the framework of Target 1 in Greece," pointed the finger at red tape for delays in the absorption of European Union fund s.

    "The need for a more effective utilization of funds provided through the Second Community Support Framework (CSF) revealed the magnitude of weaknesses of Greek public administration... Together with the Brussels bureaucracy, it must be considered as the most important cause of delays noted in the commencement of mainly large projects, as well as of the low absorption rate of funds ...

    "Regarding implementation, the picture is positive in the case of large projects in transport, energy, environment, research and technology, and negative in the sectors of industry, health, public administration, education, and employment," he said.

    Mr. Pachtas described the second CSF as "the largest ever developmental intervention in Greece".

    He said that "the absorption rate of in-flowing funds during 1994-95 amounted to 78 per cent, but only to 55 per cent in terms of payments for projects executed. The financing of projects to be supported through CSF will originate 56 per cent in Community funds, 20 per cent in the Greek state, and 24 per cent in the private sector".

    Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) president Jason Stratos said the basic conditions for the attainment of CSF targets are their timely and orderly setting, the effective absorption of funds, and macroeconomics stability in the framework of the convergence programme.

    He added that SEB considered the possibilities for modernization offered through the second CSF as one of the last opportunities for the inflow of funds to Greece, and intended to actively participate in the effort for maximization of results.

    The president of the Union of Prefectural Administration Evangelos Kouloumbis described large projects as the main lever for development in Greece. He referred to the suspicions caused in the EU by "the often unrealistic budgets of projects and the wide spread impression in Greece that the Commission puts obstacles in the promotion of large projects".

    Despite criticism voiced against the non-rational distribution of 1st CSF funds, General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) representative Giorgos Natsis stated he was optimistic about the attainment of second CSF targets. He said this necessitated the effective participation of social bodies in monitoring the implementation of projects.

    [24] Sfiriou meets with Ukrainian minister on merchant marine co-operation

    Athens 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Visiting Ukrainian Transport Minister Valery Tsubukh yesterday held talks with his Greek counterpart Kosmas Sfiriou on merchant marine co-operation.

    The two men held talks in a cordial atmosphere and confirmed the good co-operation between their countries, and expressed hope for its further improvement.

    [25] EU funds restorations in Macedonia

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Two billion drachmas in Community funds have been allocated for restoration of the ancient Filippoi site near Kavalla, and for protection of outdoor antiquities on Thassos.

    The support will also cover restoration of neoclassical buildings and monuments in Doxato, Drama, Eleftheroupoli, Komotini and Kali Vrysi, Drama.

    In addition, 440 million drachmas will be allocated for a study concerning tourism potential for the coasts of Imera, Rodopi and Proskyni, Komotini as well as renovation of the Komotini Archaeological Museum and other cultural projects on Samothrace.

    [26] Vasso Papandreou pledges better tourist services at airports, ports this year

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday pledged improved services for tourists arriving in Greece by air and sea this summer.

    Ms Papandreou said that the merchant marine ministry would take specific measures at the country's main ports, particularly Piraeus, in order to improve sign-posting, the lay-out of services and the provision of information.

    In addition, steps will be taken to better co-ordinate ferry-boat services, including heavier fines for offenders.

    Ms Papandreou said that a similar commitment had been undertaken by the transport ministry with respect to airports, with efforts to spruce up facilities and upgrade the standard of services.

    "I hope that this year, at least at some airports, there will indeed be a better picture," Ms Papandreou said.

    She added that the development ministry was optimistic about the number of tourists visiting Greece this year, as all indications from northern Europe in particular were "positive" and pointed to an increase in arrivals.

    Ms Papandreou stressed that the latest crisis in Greek-Turkish relations over Ankara's disputing of Greek sovereignty of the Aegean islet of Imia had not affected bookings for Greece in the slightest.

    [27] Banks demonstrate interest in OTE float

    Athens, 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    According to sources yesterday, offers submitted by banks interested in managing the partial floating of shares of the Telecommunications Organization (OTE) amount to an oversubscription of capital in the order of 150 per cent. Banks have submitted offers for specific numbers of shares at specific prices, ranging from 3,700 to 4,100 drachmas a share.

    The offers do not commit the banks, and have no direct relations with the result of the public subscription scheduled for March 26-29.

    Besides the three foreign banks, Barclays, Midland, and Salomon Brothers, which will undertake the management of 4.5 million shares, interest has also been expressed by Bankers Trust.

    Bank circles said the floating has began attracting the interest of domestic investors, who are estimated willing to absorb about 25.5 million shares.

    [28] Increased private investment interest seen for Eastern Macedonia-Thrace

    Athens 29/02/1996 (ANA)

    Two hundred and twenty private investment programmes will be implemented in the first half of 1996 in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, according to official data, a 200 per cent increase in new programmes compared to previous years.

    The new investments come to approximately 173 billion drachmas and state subsidization will amount to 101 billion drachmas. Completion of these programmes will create 3,850 new jobs in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Two hundred of the business programmes in the first half of 1996 concern the second-stage sector, 16 tourism and service industries and four the first-stage sector.

    Eastern Macedonia and Thrace regional governor Haris Tsiokas said "the aim of the entire effort is to have the region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace develop from a problematic region into a place with comparative advantages."

    End of English language section.

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