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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 97-05-20

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

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

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1190), May 20, 1997

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [01] Simitis, opposition spar in Parliament over economic policy
  • [02] Karamanlis
  • [03] Other opposition leaders
  • [04] Gov't to soon set out positions for constitutional revision
  • [05] Pangalos reiterates Greece's support M. East peace process
  • [06] Pangalos to meet with Israeli leadership
  • [07] G. Papandreou outlines Greek strategy for EU treaty
  • [08] Preparations for the IGC enter final stretch
  • [09] Iakovos receives award from Red Cross
  • [10] G. Papandreou meets with UN's Prendergast on Cyprus issue
  • [11] Bi-communal concert
  • [12] Washington comments on CBMs for Aegean
  • [13] KKE Parliamentary group opposes Maastricht revision
  • [14] Poll results do not worry Gov't, Reppas says
  • [15] Poll shows overwhelming negative opinion of ex-king
  • [16] Unrest reported outside buffer zone joint concert, no incidents inside
  • [17] House of Lords member calls return of Parthenon Marbles 'neither feasible nor logical'
  • [18] Events commemorating slaughter of Black Sea Greeks begin
  • [19] OTE signs 14 million dollar contract in Georgia
  • [20] Greek tourism to recover in 1997
  • [21] PM meets ministers to plan transport upgrade
  • [22] Greek farm produce ready to enter European markets
  • [23] Olympic Airways celebrates in Belgrade
  • [24] Greece shows progress in adopting EU laws
  • [25] Greece shipping needs improvement

  • [01] Simitis, opposition spar in Parliament over economic policy

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    Opening a pre-agenda parliamentary debate last night on the economy, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said a strong economy was the foundation and main weapon of the nation on all fronts, particularly in view of problems with neighboring countries.

    "We must place the weight on the country's economic progress, which must constitute a national effort par excellence," he said.

    He stressed the government's unshakable resolve to lead the country to the "safe harbor" of European Monetary Union (EMU), which he said was feasible, despite inflation, deficits and the public debt remaining at relatively high levels compared to other EU partners.

    "The economy is in its best phase in the post-dictatorship era, has acquired a notable growth dimension, and the basic challenge is acceleration of this process so that it may enter a cycle of sustainable development," he said.

    He predicted the GDP growth would be in the region of 3.7 per cent in 1997, and definitely above 3.5 per cent in 1998, while annualized inflation would fall below 5.5 per cent in May, and the public deficit would shrink to 4.2 per cent of GDP at the end of the year.

    "All these constitute characteristic indications that the economy is on the right course, but much more remains to be done for the country to approach Maastricht criteria. The aim of participating in EMU is feasible, not outright as from Jan. 1, 1999, but a little later, if the same policy is followed with consistency," he said.

    He said that although social sensitivity was a basic option of the government, no pay increases above productivity were possible, as this would have a particularly adverse impact.

    The prime minister outlined the state as the catalyst of efforts to mobilize the country's productive forces through a combination of individual and collective initiatives.

    He added that the government supports all efforts for the strengthening of the competitiveness of firms, and reiterated the need for large sections of public services to open up to competition, citing the Public Power Corp. (DEH) as a prime example. He said there will be new schemes in the organization of the electrical power production in the immediate future, with the state always retaining a strong presence.

    Finally, he said the country's exchange reserves, including gold, stand at an all-time high of US$19.2 billion, but admitted that the situation in the balance of payments is not what the government would wish.

    [02] Karamanlis

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    On his part, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis launched an attack on several issues against the government in his first address in Parliament, placing responsibilities on all past PASOK governments.

    At the start of his speech, Mr. Karamanlis expressed satisfaction over PASOK's European orientation, but added that the issue in question is not solely convergence with the European Union but with methods this will be achieved.

    Summing up the course of events in past years, Mr. Karamanlis said the first decade of PASOK governments (PASOK first came to power in 1981) created huge deficits, an unbearable debt and a voracious and wasteful state with a continuous divergence from the European Union.

    He termed the government a "Halloween dance", saying that "the generals who led the country to defeat and decline today are promising a remedy for sufferings. The people are weary of the many 'we wills' and want results. ND does not agree with easy solutions and promises provided.

    "The prospects are ominous. You must take action and your course to date does not create special expectations for the future," he added.

    Mr. Karamanlis spoke of what he called the lost decade of the '80s, adding that the present government, which is composed in its majority of the people who ruled at the time, cannot promise prosperity and progress.

    Referring to inflation, Mr. Karamanlis said whatever improvement is based on the tariff policy for public utilities and on fiscal policy. He said rapprochement in the fiscal sector is slanted and unbalanced, there are sick phenomena in the Greek economy , the squandering of public funds, poor services and preservation of the party state.

    Commenting on European Union funds, Mr. Karamanlis said the rate of their absorption is unacceptably low, adding that what is necessary is a bold privatization program and encouragement for creative forces.

    Referring to agricultural policy, he said he disagrees with dynamic methods of seeking whatever claims, saying that such practices belong to the government sector and adding that the prime minister's policy of "I don't engage in dialogue" does not resolve the problem but aggravates it.

    "Such a huge problem such as the agricultural issue, which makes rural areas desolate and increases unemployment, cannot be met with terminologies," he said.

    [03] Other opposition leaders

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    On her part, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga accused the government of undermining with its policy all potential for the country's developmental course, stressing that the country's course was political.

    "The problem is, above all, determined by what interests the general and economic policy serves, who decides, the working people, or a government which, in their name, exclusively manages the interests of plutocracy?" she asked.

    She claimed that economic studies show that in Greece there are greater reserves of accumulated wealth than in Portugal or Spain, and described as "utopian" the view regarding the competitiveness of the Greek economy.

    "The government's policy in this sector is leading to even greater reduction in the number of jobs, and not to a reduction of work time. On the contrary, this is increasing," she said.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party leader Nikos Constantopoulos, during his speech in Parliament last night, called for "dialogue on poverty and the socially marginalized" in Greece.

    He said the present situation "confirms that the political system, the governing system, the structures and the policies which activate it, produce neither development nor social justice. They broaden the inequalities and contradictions while increasing the percentage of the newly-poor in life on one hand and of the newly rich of power on the other."

    The Synaspismos leader said no one has doubted the need for basic convergence and social cohesion in order for Greece to be able to be included in developments along with other European countries.

    However, he added, the crucial problem is "in which way the cost of adoption and development will be distributed, with what criteria the dangers and losses will be evaluated."

    Mr. Constantopoulos said unemployment, poverty, inequality and social exclusion are "explosive problems" for Greece and Europe, adding that they "demand modern and effective policy of social cohesion and support."

    He added that this must be the basic content of both the social and political dialogue which has begun in society and which governments must also embark upon.

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas said that "multiple economic, political, social, national and cultural crisis of the country is mainly due to the policy of the last eight years, followed by the two large conservative parties, ND and today's PASOK".

    "The claim that the neo-conservative monetarist policy of the government and ND is a one-way street, and that the only option for the survival of the country is participation in EMU is a myth. And this because in essence, it is a nightmarish vision of German bankers and major financial capital, for the continuation of one-sided austerity in the name of a supposed competitiveness, through the full abolition of the welfare state."

    In a press release, Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras said Greece should adopt a new convergence program for 1997-2000 to prepare adequately for the Economic and Monetary Union and introduce new sectors into the economy.

    In his statement, Mr. Samaras said the decrease in inflation was a false impression created by extraordinary/unusual conditions such as low prices for agricultural products and the artificial freezing of public utility rates.

    [04] Gov't to soon set out positions for constitutional revision

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    The government will soon set out its final positions for constitutional revision, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday, in response to questions regarding Sunday's relevant article in the newspaper "To Vima".

    According to the article, the government is inclined to propose that the third Parliamentary round of voting for election of the president of the republic - if a candidate is not elected in the first two rounds - require only 151 votes, instead of 180, which applies at present, and which if not attained, requires the dissolution of Parliament.

    Commenting on the same issue, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who is a constitutional law professor, said the speculation regarding the revision, particular y of the provisions concerning the election of a president, has been rather hasty, as the relevant debate in the government and Parliament has not been completed.

    However, he seemed to confirm the newspaper report.

    "Given the responsibilities of the president of the republic, which are adequate, we can discuss a reduction of the necessary majority, so that the dissolution of Parliament may be avoided," he said.

    [05] Pangalos reiterates Greece's support M. East peace process

    Gaza Strip, 20/5/1997 (ANA - S. Sideris)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday reiterated Greece's support for the Palestinian autonomous territories and for the continuation of the Middle East peace process, while visiting Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat here yesterday afternoon.

    Mr. Pangalos and Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis arrived in Tel Aviv earlier in the day and left for Gaza to meet with Mr. Arafat, during a two-day official visit to the area.

    "We had a very good and constructive discussion on the issue of protecting the peace process and on our bilateral relations," Mr. Arafat said after the meeting.

    "We do not forget Greece's constant support during difficult moments," the Palestinian leader said, adding: "The meeting was positive and constructive."

    Mr. Pangalos said the meeting focused on the current situation in the region after the recent impasse in the peace processes.

    "Greece," Mr. Pangalos said, "condemns every effort aiming at interrupting or slowing down the Oslo procedures," calling on all parties "to honor their signature." "The Greek government condemns Israel's settlement policy," he added.

    Both men concluded that relations between the two countries were at a very good level, while the Greek minister emphasized Palestinian plans to celebrate the 2000 years since the birth of Christ in Bethlehem.

    According to an AFP dispatch, Mr. Arafat had met earlier yesterday with the European Union's special envoy to the Middle East, Spanish ambassador Miguel Moratinos, who said the EU "is cooperating closely with the United States" in order to resolve the issues in the region. He also said the peace process "must be saved at all costs".

    [06] Pangalos to meet with Israeli leadership

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    Mr. Pangalos said that during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, he will try to convey as best as possible the views, concerns and anxiety of the Palestinians.

    After his meeting with the Palestinian leader, Mr. Pangalos traveled to Israel, where he met with the leader of the opposition, Shimon Peres, and discussed developments in the region.

    Mr. Peres said he opposed the government's policy of building Jewish settlements in the Arab areas of East Jerusalem, and called for the more active involvement of the European Union and promotion of the peace process.

    The Greek foreign minister later visited the Jerusalem Orthodox Patriarchate and met with Patriarch Diodoros, with whom he discussed the problem which arose after two rooms of the Patriarchate were annexed by Islamist fundamentalists. The issue is currently being dealt with in the courts.

    Mr. Pangalos assured the Patriarch that Greece will always support the Patriarchate, adding that its values and property must be safeguarded.

    The Greek minister was also awarded with the Church's highest honor during his visit.

    Besides Prime Minister Netenyahu, the foreign minister is due to meet today with Israeli President Ezer Weizman and Israeli Foreign Minister David Levi.

    [07] G. Papandreou outlines Greek strategy for EU treaty

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said during a press conference yesterday that "Greece has outlined a comprehensive view and policy for the development of the European Union which combines European priorities with national interests.

    "It seeks the fulfillment of the EU in order for it to be based on the principles of equality, democracy, transparency and solidarity. A Europe with strong supra-national institutions, democratically legalized and effective."

    Mr. Papandreou added that Europe must be in a position to contribute positively to the handling of crises and the restoration and maintenance of peace.

    "For this reason, we support the reinforcement of foreign policy and the development of common defense on the level of the EU," he said.

    [08] Preparations for the IGC enter final stretch

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    In a related development, Mr. Papandreou said the IGC to revise the Maastricht Treaty is now entering its final and most critical stage of consultations.

    Mr. Papandreou was speaking in light of today's meeting in The Hague by EU foreign ministers to lay the groundwork for the IGC summit on May 23.

    The ministers are expected to focus on issues related to the common foreign and security policy and a range of issues which have been raised by the Dutch EU presidency.

    Meanwhile, differences regarding institutional issues between EU member-states are expected to be raised on a higher political level. Mr. Papandreou said there continued to be differences on issues such as the number of commissioners on the Commission, and unanimity and majority voting.

    Mr. Papandreou said the new Labor government in Britain had pledged its positive contribution to the making of a new EU treaty.

    Regarding the issue of shipping, Mr. Papandreou said Greece would ask for an exception and was ready to fight for one.

    [09] Iakovos receives award from Red Cross

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    Iakovos, the former archbishop of North and South America was awarded the Golden Cross yesterday for his "long and outstanding contribution to Hellenism and the Orthodoxy," during a special ceremony dedicated to the 120th anniversary of the Greek Branch of the Red Cross and World Red Cross Day.

    The ceremony was held at the Archeological Society premises in the presence of the President of the Republic, Costis Stephanopoulos and President of the Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis.

    Iakovos said he would continue to offer his offices to the Church and the Nation to the end of his life.

    The Golden Cross was also awarded to Lily Venizelou-Harami for her long and substantial contribution to the international ecological movement as well as to Professor George Pavlos for his work on Thrace.

    In the meantime, Mr. Kaklamanis issued a statement on the occasion of World Red Cross Day stressing the "difficult work of the Red Cross in difficult conditions."

    Mr. Kaklamanis drew attention to the contribution of the Greek branch of the Red Cross to developing countries "where millions of people live in poverty and misery."

    [10] G. Papandreou meets with UN's Prendergast on Cyprus issue

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou met with visiting UN Under-secretary-General Sir Kieran Prendergast yesterday to discuss the impact of Cyprus' accession to the European Union on the problem of the divided island.

    Sir Kieran arrived in Athens on Sunday and met with Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis in the evening to discuss the possibility of success in talks between Cyprus president Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash under UN auspices.

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had said he intends to invite Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash to New York, probably in early June, for "face-to-face" negotiations.

    Yesterday's meeting between Mr. Papandreou and Sir Kieran examined how a prospective Cyprus entry to the European Union could act positively on the problem of the division as well as on Greek-Turkish and European-Turkish relations.

    [11] Bi-communal concert

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    Talking to reporters later, Mr. Papandreou said he hoped that last night's bi-communal concert by Greek and Turkish pop stars, Sakis Rouvas and Burak Kut, would not be marred by any incidents.

    The United Nations-sponsored concert in UN-policed no man's land in the divided capital of Nicosia was set to go ahead amid unprecedented security measures.

    Mr. Papandreou noted that while it was "positive" that the youth of both communities could meet for a cultural event, there already had been "more substantial" contacts between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities, through women's groups, unions and others.

    Talking to reporters later, spokesman Dimitris Reppas expressed the government's concern about whether there could be a positive outcome of direct talks on the Cyprus issue under UN auspices.

    The Cypriot government has stated that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has simultaneously called for direct talks while not showing any inclination whatsoever for rapprochement, Mr. Reppas said.

    This fact must be stressed to the UN Secretary-General and taken into consideration if the effort for progress in direct talks under the UN chief's auspices is to make any headway.

    Mr. Reppas added that the completely negative stance of the Turkish side to date caused the government concern over what positive outcome, if any, could be expected.

    [12] Washington comments on CBMs for Aegean

    Washington, 20/5/1997 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said yesterday that NATO's proposed confidence-building measures for the Aegean have not been rejected, and that both Greece and Turkey are continuing to examine them carefully.

    Mr. Burns noted that the issues are "legally difficult and politically sensitive for both countries," and for this reason, it is understandable that they want more time and a more cautious public approach."

    The State Department spokesman expressed the satisfaction of the US over the fact that "some progress is being made between the interested parties," as both countries appear to be dealing with the proposals by NATO Secretary General Javier Solana "with a degree of seriousness and good will".

    In a separate development, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, respectively, discussed the Cyprus issue during a meeting at the US State Department yesterday.

    This was their first meeting since the Labor Party shot to power during Britain's general elections earlier this month.

    An advisor of Mr. Cook who participated in the meeting told the Athens News Agency that London and Washington have agreed to promote the procedure of talks which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is ready to begin.

    "We are both determined to support this effort and it is a joint evaluation that we are being given an opportunity to try to solve the problem. Robin Cook was clear on that," the advisor said.

    Mr. Cook also met with US Secretary of Defense William Cohen and US President Bill Clinton's national security advisor Sandy Berger.

    [13] KKE Parliamentary group opposes Maastricht revision

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    The Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) Parliamentary group issued a document yesterday opposing revision of the Maastricht Treaty in view of the Intergovernmental Conference.

    Independent of changes, the KKE text stated that "a new shrinking of the national and people's sovereignty is due to come about and the democratic and social rights of workers will suffer."

    According to KKE, the common internal security and judicial policy will give rise to a range of institutions and "suppression mechanisms" that will violate basic human rights.

    The Common Foreign and Defense Policy, KKE says, will lead to the "further militarization of Europe," while there will be no benefits for Greece since the proposal for political solidarity has not drawn "any response."

    The document also draws attention to Greece's cultural incorporation into a European unification, due to come about "when Greece consents to the common policy for culture."

    KKE also accused the government of a willingness to "back off" in the issues of the "vital interest," and "flexibility."

    The KKE document also criticizes consultations regarding fundamental rights, saying that the European Union had not taken measures to battle unemployment and had not consolidated "the social protocol." Concluding, KKE raised anew the issue of a referendum regarding the Maastricht Treaty.

    [14] Poll results do not worry Gov't, Reppas says

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday that it was not concerned with the results of a poll published in yesterday's edition of "Ta Nea" which showed opposition leader Costas Karamanlis more popular with respondents than Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    "The government is concerned with problems," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    Mr. Reppas said the government was unaware of the positions held by Mr. Karamanlis and that the Greek people had given him "a generous honeymoon period".

    He added that the results of the poll indicated that the Greek people knew that the government of the country was in "responsible hands".

    The poll, conducted by PRC Hellas, gave ruling party PASOK a clear lead in voters' preferences over the conservative opposition New Democracy party.

    According to the poll, PASOK was better able to deal with the country's problems than ND, with 46.0 percent of respondents saying Prime Minister Costas Simitis was the best person for prime minister, and 31.7 percent in favor of ND leader Costas Karamanlis.

    Mr. Karamanlis however beat out Mr. Simitis in the most popular category, with 54.2 percent to 50.9 percent.

    [15] Poll shows overwhelming negative opinion of ex-king

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    According to a V-PRC poll, conducted on behalf of the Greek state television channel 1 (ET-1) during the May 7-15 period, 65.5 per cent of those questioned have a negative opinion of former king Constantine.

    The poll, which will be aired tonight at 8 p.m., also shows that 55.3 per cent of respondents believe that the monarchy brought about only trials and tribulations to the country, while 56.7 attribute a very large responsibility to the monarchy for the seven-year military dictatorship (1967-74).

    An even higher 66.2 per cent replied negatively to a future presence of the former king in the country's political life.

    [16] Unrest reported outside buffer zone joint concert, no incidents

    Nicosia, 20/5/1997 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    Police used tear gas to break up groups of young Greek Cypriot rioters in the free part of the Cypriot capital who threw firebombs to protest a joint concert by a Greek and Turkish singer at a stadium in the buffer zone dividing the island republic.

    However, the concert ended without any serious incidents occurring in the stadium, with Greek Cypriots outnumbering Turkish Cypriots by three to one. In addition, several high-ranking UN peace-keeping officials attended the concert, which was organized under the auspices of the United Nations.

    Greek singer Sakis Rouvas and Turkish singer Burat Kut opened their performance at the Taxim Stadium under the auspices of United Nations peacekeeping forces. Although strict controls were implemented for those entering the area of the stadium, attendance was low by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

    Meanwhile, in the free areas of the capital rioters lit fires on several streets, burned plastic trash bins and broke storefronts.

    An unspecified number of young people were also arrested following scuffles that broke out between the police and a group of more than 4,000 protesters.

    The Greek Cypriot group, which had gathered at Eleftherias Square, approved a resolution calling for the United Nations to concentrate on applying the resolutions they have adopted rather than organizing concerts.

    The only tension at the concert was when an unidentified man, a suspected member of the extremist "gray wolves" organization, shouted slogans in favor of Turkey. He was quickly removed from the area by UN personnel.

    [17] House of Lords member calls return of Parthenon Marbles 'neither feasible nor logical'

    London, 20/5/1997 (ANA/AFP)

    In a statement yesterday, Lord MacIntosh of Haringey said a possible decision to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece would be "neither feasible nor logical."

    Lord MacIntosh, who is a member of Britain's new Labor government, was explaining his country's refusal to satisfy Greece's request.

    He is Vice-President of the Labor party's Parliamentary group in the House of Lords and consequently a full member of the government.

    Addressing the House, he said that London understands "the strong sentimental argument advocating in favor of the return of the Parthenon Marbles."

    "However, we believe that it would not be feasible for us to return them because they constitute the property of the British Museum and this would require legislation making their confiscation possible," he added.

    [18] Events commemorating slaughter of Black Sea Greeks begin

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    A week of tributes to the memory of 353,000 Black Sea Greeks slaughtered by Turks 74 years ago began in Thessaloniki yesterday.

    The events of 1916-1923 effectively turned the Black Sea Greeks into refugees.

    A 1994 decision by the Greek Parliament designated May 19 as a day of remembrance of the massacre.

    Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis and Thessaloniki deputy Panayiotis Psomiadis were due to speak at a rally last night on the genocide while National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos was due to inaugurate a seminar on the events at the Thessaloniki International Fair grounds.

    On Sunday, flags will fly at half-mast throughout the Thessaloniki region.

    [19] OTE signs 14 million dollar contract in Georgia

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    The Greek Telecommunications Organization (OTE) and construction company Hellascom have signed a 14 million dollar contract with Fortnet of Georgia for the installment and operation of fiber optics networks in the former Soviet republic.

    The contract, for the construction and operation of a cable system of fiber optics body in Georgia, will connect the biggest cities in the country and at the same time be part of the inter-continental fiber optics network TARE (Trans Asia-Europe). The system will stretch from Poti (a Black Sea harbor) to the capital Tbilisi and then split in two towards Azerbaijan and Armenia.

    The project will be fully funded by OTE in the form of lending on a 10 year repayment period. Hellascom has undertaken the construction of the project.

    The project is one of the biggest investments ever in Georgia in the telecommunications sector.

    [20] Greek tourism to recover in 1997

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    1997 will be a year of recovery for Greek tourism after two years of stagnation, with an expected rate of increase of 8-10 percent, according to a quarterly survey by the Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasts.

    The survey, however, predicts slower growth for revenue and links the recovery in the number of arrivals to the necessity for an adaptation of policies and services by the state and private sector to new standards established in the international tourism market during the last few years. Problems facing the tourism industry surfaced in 1995 when arrivals dropped by 10 percent on an annual basis, which was followed by an equivalent drop in 1996.

    Andreas Andreadis, president of the Hoteliers' Union of Halkidiki, expects a return to growth rates in 1994, also noting that prices remained steady during the last four years.

    Giorgos Georgiadis, president of the Hoteliers' Union of Rhodes, said that although the number of beds remained unchanged in Rhodes and Cyprus, in 1996 there were 900,000 arrivals in Rhodes, while in Cyprus the number of arrivals reached 2,100,000. "The island (of Rhodes) will be facing problems until arrivals rise to 1,500,000," he said.

    The survey also refers to the importance of "service with a smile" as a factor in upgrading the quality of services offered to tourists.

    It also urges the undertaking of major infrastructure projects such as road networks, new airports and marinas included in the strategic plan of the Development Ministry, set out by Minister Vasso Papandreou during the National Tourism Organization (EOT) congress in April.

    [21] PM meets ministers to plan transport upgrade

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis held a ministerial meeting on Monday to discuss acceleration of a plan to modernize state transport and communications and tighten up finances.

    Attending the meeting were National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papandoniou and Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis, whose ministry is responsible for national carrier Olympic Airways, the Hellenic Railways Organization and Hellenic Post Offices.

    The meeting was timed to coincide with the start of a parliamentary debate on the economy later on Monday that was called by the main conservative opposition New Democracy party.

    "(Discussed were) the full range of proposals for implementation of measures essential to more effective operations of organizations under our jurisdiction," Kastanidis told reporters after the two-hour meeting.

    [22] Greek farm produce ready to enter European markets

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    Greek exports of fresh and processed farm produce to western and central European markets totaled 1,436 million ECU in 1995, according to data released by the Association of Northern Greek Exporters (SEBE). The president of the confederation, Apostolos Genitsaris, addressing a seminar held in Thessaloniki as part of events marking the 14th DETROP trade fair, said that while there was a marked rise in processed farm exports, fresh produce exports remained stagnant.

    Vegetables had shown a steady increase during the last few years, although Greek exports remained low compared with other exports showing similar levels of production. Fruit exports slowed in 1995 due to lower exports to Eastern Europe, but the situation improved in 1996.

    SEBE's president underlined that modernization achieved in the production of both fresh and processed farm produce during the last few years had given the sector a competitive advantage for expanding into the high-standard markets of west and central Europe.

    [23] Olympic Airways celebrates in Belgrade

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    Olympic Airways, the Greek national carrier, celebrated its 40th birthday with a party in the center of Belgrade. The highlight of the event was a birthday balloon, named after the founder of the company, Aristotelis Onassis, which took off from a cheering crowd of several thousand Belgrade citizens. Serbian TV stations and newspapers covered the event.

    Olympic Airways inaugurated its offices in the Serbian capital eight months ago and it operates five flights a week on the Athens-Belgrade route and two weekly flights to and from Thessaloniki. Officials from OA's bureau in Belgrade said that the airline is satisfied with the operation of the route, which shows an 80 percent flight loading factor.

    [24] Greece shows progress in adopting EU laws

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    Greece has marked a substantial improvement in adopting EU laws into national legislation during the last few months, according to Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    The country now stands sixth among European Union member-states in adopting Community law, from tenth just a few months ago, Papandreou told reporters.

    Papandreou made the announcement following a meeting late last week between Greek authorities and the EU's General Secretariat responsible for harmonizing Community law matters accompanied by a 20-member delegation from the European Commission.

    Discussions highlighted the improvement made by Greece in adopting Community law, particularly in the sectors of industry, commerce, the merchant marine and labor. The agriculture sector - the most tightly controlled sector in EU legislation - also made progress. On the other hand, the telecommunications sector lagged behind due to "political sensitivity", although the climate of mutual co-operation between Greece and the EU remained positive.

    From the 110 directives under discussion at the meeting, 20 had already been adopted into national legislation, while another 72 were being processed, leaving only 19 directives pending.

    [25] Greece shipping needs improvement

    Athens, 20/5/1997 (ANA)

    Greek shipping needs to modernize and improve the quality of its services in order to meet competition from abroad, especially before cabotage restrictions are lifted, according to speakers at a conference held in the port city of Piraeus.

    The conference, which focused on improving the quality of shipping management and training, concluded that modernization was needed across the board, with special emphasis on passenger transport.

    IEK Xyni, a chain of private sector vocational training colleges, organized the conference, which was sponsored by the Express daily financial newspaper.

    The event was backed by Piraeus' local authorities, the Union of Coastal Ship Owners, Panhellenic Union of Merchant Shipping Captains, Union of Greek Passenger Ship Owners and Hellenic Standardization Organization. Also on the agenda were developments in shipping at home and abroad, training for seamen, safety for passengers, ships and cargo, and marine pollution prevention.

    Local government officials stressed that Piraeus' future was inextricably linked with the future of shipping.

    End of English language section.


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