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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-17

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Simitis says pressures to change Greek stance at Cardiff yielded nothing
  • [02] Athens still awaiting response over Parthenon Marbles furor
  • [03] Girl, 12, ticketed for...riding a bike without a licence
  • [04] Blair rejects idea of changing Luxembourg decisions,no pre-conditions for Cyprus
  • [05] Cem discerns 'positive' results from Cardiff
  • [06] EU summit focuses on `Agenda 2000`,resource allocation
  • [07] Simitis calls French stance on Turkey, Cyprus 'neutral'
  • [08] Karamanlis-Martens meeting
  • [09] Clinton letter to Yilmaz regarding Cyprus issue
  • [10] ND cadres react favourably to Greek stance at EU summit
  • [11] Third annual 'Youth Assembly' in Parliament
  • [12] Stephanopoulos receives Tufts University delegation
  • [13] Constantopoulos concludes visit to Cyprus
  • [14] Conference on issue of German reparations
  • [15] Vartholomeos-Christodoulos satisfied from discussions
  • [16] Int'l water resource conference on Crete
  • [17] Arsenis details education reforms
  • [18] Road safety on parliament agenda
  • [19] Greece's 1998 budget still within targets,spending rises
  • [20] Greek bonds unscathed by Asian crisis
  • [21] Merchants' main concerns detailed in report
  • [22] Greek stocks in U-turn as domestic players return to the fold
  • [23] Greece asks EU to see report on Olympic Airways over share cap rise
  • [24] Bank of Piraeus named financial intermediary in EU programme
  • [25] National computer group to launch information technology drive
  • [26] Thessaloniki-Sofia air link
  • [27] Insurance for soccer players
  • [28] New National Bank building planned
  • [29] AMAN General Assembly backs freedom of movement of press
  • [30] Greek fighters touch down at airbase

  • [01] Simitis says pressures to change Greek stance at Cardiff yielded nothing

    CARDIFF 17/06/1998 (ANA- M. Spinthourakis)

    The framework of EU-Turkey relations remains unchan-ged, despite strong pressure exerted on Greece to consent to changing decisions reached in Luxembourg last December and a personal intervention by US President Bill Clin ton, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said here yesterday after the end of the EU summit.

    "The final communique makes it clear that the basic principles of the Luxembourg summit decisions remain in force," he told Greek reporters.

    He explained that these pressures were two-pronged: To have Turkey declared a candidate country for EU membership (rather than 'se-lectible' for entry as described in Luxembourg) and to elicit Greece's consent for an unconditional financing of Turkey th rough EU funds.

    "The Greek side did not accept relevant proposals of the British presidency, and the pursuit by certain sides to change the basis for economic assistance to Turkey bore no result," he said.

    Mr. Simitis disclosed that he received a telephone call from Mr. Clinton on Monday night requesting that Athens consent to boosting EU relations with Turkey, saying that in such a case the US side would exercise all of its influence on Turkey towards smoothing out Greek-Turkish relations.

    He said that he told the US president that it was not possible for Greece to accept any rewording of the Luxembourg summit decisions regarding the Union's relations with Turkey.

    "I told President Clinton that his approach to EU-Turkey relations was not correct and that Greece's position could not be changed," he said. He also said he stressed to the US president that Turkey's internal situation did not permit any optimism for a change in its stand and that the Luxembourg decisions could not be changed so as to simply assist Ankara in its effort to face its internal problems.

    Furthermore, he said if tension arose as a result of Greece's refusal to change its stand, as President Clinton suggested, the basic responsibility would lay with Turkey.

    "It is Turkey that must change its stand, accepting, for instance, Greece's proposal to refer the (eastern Aegean) Imia islets issue to the International Court at The Hague," he said.

    He also noted that Mr. Clinton was not satisfied by his answers, while responding to a question whether US intervention should cause concern, he said: "certainly caution is needed," noting: "yester-day, the President of the US called me to discuss the problem, and I am not sure this would have happened in previous days."

    Finally, he said that during the summit's discussions on relations with Turkey, Greece was not alone against the other 14 members, as many believed.

    "Despite the picture some had, Greece was not isolated at Cardiff, nor was the balance of forces 14 to one," he said.

    Diplomatic sources said that discussion on Turkey did not last long, while indirect threats of certain countries, such as France, that they would link the continuation of membership negotiations with Cyprus with the decisions of the Cardiff summit on Turkey fell through.

    Blair : Reuters quoted British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who presided over the summit, as saying at a closing news conference and in reference to the discussion on Turkey, "we had a better and more constructive discussion. Our Greek colleagues made their points very firmly indeed, but I think we have made some progress".

    "I think it is significant in trying to put our relations with Turkey back on the rails, but it's up to Turkey to respond," Mr. Blair was quoted as saying.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Athens still awaiting response over Parthenon Marbles furor

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday expressed his regret that there has been no response by Britain or UNESCO concerning Athens' protest over damage caused to the Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum.

    Mr. Venizelos met with British ambassador to Athens, Sir Michael Llewelyn Smith, and presented him with a letter for his British counterpart Chris Smith. The Greek minister reportedly requests the calling of an international committee to examine the issue of the return of the ancient friezes. He also extended an invitation to Mr. Smith to visit Greece.

    Mr. Venizelos also said he expected to meet his counterpart during an informal council meeting organised by the Austrian EU presidency, and at a culture ministers' meeting on Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, set for September in Rhodes.

    British historian William St. Clair disclosed earlier this month that the 5th century BC artworks were damaged during restoration at the British Museum in the late 1930s, where they are housed.

    Mr. St. Clair said the marbles had suffered irrevocable damage when British Museum staff had tried to whiten the friezes to what was mistakenly thought to be their original colour.

    According to an ANA dispatch from London, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou will visit the British Museum this morning and will also meet with members of the British committee for the return to Greece of the marbles. He may also meet with Mr. St. Clair.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Girl, 12, ticketed for...riding a bike without a licence

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    A 12-year-old girl is scheduled to appear in court on the island of Lesvos next Tuesday, charged with riding a children's bicycle without a licence.

    According to reports, Alexia Georgiadi was injured last June when she was knocked off her bicycle by a bus on a road near the Pyrgi Thermi site.

    The girl was given first aid on the eastern Aegean island before being taken to hospital in Athens.

    However, a few days ago, the young girl received a summons to appear in court on June 23 to be tried "for riding a bicycle which had no licence," along with the bus driver.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Blair rejects idea of changing Luxembourg decisions,no pre-conditions for Cyprus

    LONDON 17/07/1998 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    "We have no intention whatever of changing the L uxembourg conclusions and we have made it quite clear," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in reference to EU-Turkey relations yesterday.

    In response to questions by the national New Greek Television (NET), the British PM added that "it isn't the desire of the EU to discriminate in favour of Turkey, but it is not the desire of the EU to discriminate against them either".

    Asked whether there were any serious indication that Turkey was prepared to fulfill criteria required for other candidate countries, the British premier said:

    "...our criteria are the same whether it is Turkey or any other country. Now what then happens as a response to that is up to Turkey, I cannot decide thatIthat is for the Turkish government to decide."

    Mr. Blair was also asked if his government supported the view that the island republic's accession negotiations should go ahead.

    "We want to see them go ahead, we have made it clear there are no pre- conditions", he said, adding that things would be far easier if there was a settlement of the Cyprus issue, without however, this being a condition.

    "It is easier to do if we have a settlement that is lasting and durable for the island," he stressed.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Cem discerns 'positive' results from Cardiff

    ANKARA 17/06/1998 (ANA/Reuters)

    Turkey's leadership was reserved on hearing word of decisions taken at the Union's Cardiff summit, stressing that more steps must be taken to restore damage in EU-Turkish relations. "I cannot say that it was a great success. However , there were positive developments," Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem told Turkey's Parliament, according to the Anatolian news agency.

    Mr. Cem added that he saw progress for Turkey at the summit and said that his country will respond to the goodwill he discerns from certain EU member- states.

    "Some steps forward were taken now. It is not easy. It is a long-term issue. Let us be positive towards those who are positive," Mr. Cem said.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] EU summit focuses on `Agenda 2000`,resource allocation

    CARDIFF 17/06/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The Cardiff summit focused on two basic issues, the European Union's own resources and their distribution, as well as the "Agenda 2000", Prime Minster Costas Simitis yesterday, stressing his satisfaction with the summit' s overall results.

    He said Greece's position was that the Community should increase its own resources in order to be able to meet requirements of convergence and enlargement. He reported that these issues remained open, despite certain efforts to close them, and stressed that it was made clear that different categories of resources would be used in each case.

    The second major issue was the Agenda 2000, focusing on a reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the new activities of the EU's Funds.

    "These issues, too, remained open, and Greece's position that they constitute a single packet was endorsed," he said.

    Another major chapter that was discussed, said Mr. Simitis, concerned the future of the European Union.

    "What is important is to look into how we can give new targets to the European Union, to open up new avenues, a new vision, as those of the past, in order to strengthen the dynamics of unification," he said, adding that it was decided that before the revision process began, there should first be a ratification of the Treaty of Amsterdam by all EU countries.

    Regarding the employment issue, Mr. Simitis said it was agreed that there should be an appraisal of the programmes of the various countries, but without binding rules, as supported by Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Simitis calls French stance on Turkey, Cyprus 'neutral'

    CARDIFF 17/06/1998 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday termed France's stance as "neutral" in relation to the EU's strategy vis-a-vis Turkey during the Cardiff summit.

    In relation to Cyprus' EU accession talks, Mr. Simitis said French President Jacques Chirac made an attempt during the summit's sessions to delete reference to candidate-nations with which the Union is conducting accession negotiations, saying Cyprus is a "special case" and that conditions for other candidates states aren't applicable to the island republic because of "its known problems."

    Mr. Simitis said Greece disagreed completely with the French president, whose effort failed as the summit's final communique listed all the countries set to begin EU accession negotiations, as decided in Luxembourg.

    Late last week, a French FM spokeswoman said Paris would raise the issue of Cyprus' accession talks during the summit, suggesting that the talks should either continue or be suspended.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Karamanlis-Martens meeting

    STRASBOURG 17/06/1998 (ANA - C. Haralambopoulos)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis described a meeting he had here with European People's Party (EPP) President Wilfred Martens as especially satisfying.

    Apart from discussing EPP organisational issues, Mr. Karamanlis said he had a chance to present some of Greece's major national issues.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Clinton letter to Yilmaz regarding Cyprus issue

    ANKARA 17/06/1998 (ANA - A. Abatzis)

    Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz rejected a request by US President Bill Clinton requesting that Ankara adopt a more flexible stance on the Cyprus issue, according to press reports here.

    A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday that a letter by Mr. Clinton was delivered to the Turkish PM by the US ambassador in Ankara.

    The spokesman said the letter contained "a wish that progress be made on the Cyprus issue", and that the Turkish premier in his meeting with the US ambassador outlined the Turkish positions regarding Cyprus and the issue over Russian-made S-300 anti-air craft missiles.

    However, Turkish press reports said that the US president asked Ankara for a more flexible attitude on the long-standing dispute.

    "They asked Turkey to make more efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue", the daily "Hurriyet" reported. The same newspaper noted that Mr. Yilmaz gave a message to the US ambassador to convey to Mr. Clinton.

    "As long as there is a negative stance on the part of Greece, the solution of the Cyprus issue is made more difficult", Mr. Yilmaz is quoted as responding to Mr. Clinton, adding that "as long as there are no changes in plans to transport the S-300 missi les (to Cyprus), it's hard for Turkey to maintain its flexibility".

    The paper also quoted the Turkish prime minister as saying that "the continuation of (accession) negotiations between Greek Cypriots and the European Union, as well as the fact that Turkish Cypriots are regarded a minority, are an obstacle to Turkey's good-will initiatives".

    Athens News Agency

    [10] ND cadres react favourably to Greek stance at EU summit

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy responded positively to Prime Minister Costas Simitis' reactions to reported pressures by US President Bill Clinton in order to lift Athens' objections towards Turkey being considered a candidate country for EU accession, dur ing sessions at the Cardiff summit.

    ND's Parliamentary representatives said that the party's position in favour of streadfast national interests is self-evident. ND deputy Sioufas added that many questions are self-evident and justified on how during Mr. Simitis' premiership the US and many EU partners reached the point of viewing Greek-Turkish relations from a clearly pro-Turkish angle.

    Former ND leader Miltiades Evert said that Mr. Simitis' position was indicative, adding that he was right for not bowing to pressures.

    However, Mr. Evert added that it is necessary for the US to realise that it must provide explanations and make corrective statements immediately, otherwise it will also be responsible for future Turkish provocations since the publication of the US Presi dent's statements signals the creation of a climate of tension with Turkey.

    ND deputy and former minister Ioannis Varvitsiotis said in a statement to the New York-based newspaper "Proini" that this development is tangible proof of where continuous submissiveness and the setting out of foreign policy based on suggestions is lead ing to.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Third annual 'Youth Assembly' in Parliament

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    Three hundred and fifty Greek high school students from Greece, Cyprus, the US, Germany and several other countries gathered for the third consecutive year in Parliament yesterday, to form the Youth Assembly.

    During the event they aired their views on several burning issues of their generation and grievances with the "adult world".

    Sessions of the assembly, inspired by noted Greek novelist Antonis Samarakis, was attended by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and numerous deputies.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Stephanopoulos receives Tufts University delegation

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday received the president of Boston-based Tufts University, members of the university's international council of commissioners and the Fletcher School of Law dean.

    The Tufts delegation informed the Greek president of a decision to establish a Constantine Karamanlis faculty at the school and within the framework of a new Greek and Southeastern European Studies programme.

    President Stephanopoulos was also honoured by the Tufts delegation, led by President John di Biaggio and law school dean John R. Galvin.

    The event was attended by US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns, among other officials.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Constantopoulos concludes visit to Cyprus

    NICOSIA 17/06/1998 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    Visiting Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, who ended his contacts with Cypriot officials yesterday, said his party wanted a constant and effective coordination of relations between Athens and Nicosia, as well as constant briefings on developments by the Greek government for all political parties.

    The Synaspismos leader further stressed that his party required the establishment of a foreign policy council to process a concrete strategy, stressing that "from time to time, we ascertain that handlings (on the Cyprus issue) include fragmentary moves and double-talk", he said.

    With regard to the EU Cardiff summit, he estimated that the opening of Cyprus' EU accession talks had given rise to certain mobility with regard to Greek-Turkish relations.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Conference on issue of German reparations

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    The prefectural administration of Viotia will organise a conference on the issue of German reparations for the Nazi occupation of Greece (1941-44), scheduled between June 19-21 at the European Cultural Centre at Delphi.

    The conference, entitled "Hellenic-German Friendship Conference", will be attended by German historians, journalists and politicians. All living Greek foreign ministers and undersecretaries have also been invited to attend.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Vartholomeos-Christodoulos satisfied from discussions

    ISTANBUL 17/06/1998 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Visiting Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos and Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos both expressed their satisfaction over the outcome of Monday talks, reaffirming a willingness to develop relations between th e Patriarchate and the Autocephalus Church of Greece.

    "Because we are good friends, we can promote the (two) Churches' issues with understanding, love, decisiveness and a disposition to resolve them in the best way possible," Vartholomeos told the press during a visit to the Greek consulate here.

    "The Church of Greece, which has always stood by the Patriarchate, reassures that it will always be on the side of the Mother Church", Archbishop Christodoulos commented, adding that it was natural for problems to exist, but they will be dealt with in a spirit of cooperation.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Int'l water resource conference on Crete

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    The 12th conference of evaluation methods for water resources began at Herssonisos, Irakleio yesterday. The conference, attended by 180 scientists from around over the world, was organised for the first time in Princeton, New Jersey 22 years go and ever since it has been alternately assigned to selected research centres and universities in the United States and Europe every two years.

    The purpose of the conference is presentation of new scientific methods for the description and tackling of problems related to all forms of water resources.

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Arsenis details education reforms

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis yesterday announced new measures in the framework of educational reforms.

    He said that last year 160 all-day kindergartens operated, while this year another 190 will function so that by the year 2000 there will be kindergartens throughout the country.

    Mr. Arsenis said that a supplementary teaching programme will be extended, while 8,000 appointments will take place. He further said that 1,500 specialised educators will be appointed at schools over the next two years to teach professional orientation,while an academy for continuous teachers' training will be established.

    Referring to ASEP's recent examinations for teacher appointment, which came to an end on Monday, Mr. Arsenis said that "despite efforts by some people, the exam was a success. The response was high. There is no question of a repeat of the exam and it will not take place.""

    ASEP reiterated yesterday that the exam will not be repeated, but did not rule out the possibility of a supplementary one in the event objections lodged meet with a positive response.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Road safety on parliament agenda

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    The transport ministry will soon submit a bill to Parliament which will establish a Road Safety Council to draft and supervise a national road safety policy, Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis announced yesterday. Mr. Mantelis said accidents on Greek roads claimed 2000 lives each year and left more than 30,000 people with injuries. The cost to the national economy, he said, was in the region of 150 billion drachmas annually.

    Mr. Mantelis said improving roads and defining a national policy on road safety would be the overriding concerns of the Council, which will have an initial budget of two billion drachmas and a staff of 45.

    The Council will make an annual report on progress and statistics to the prime minister, Parliament President, political party leaders and ministries.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Greece's 1998 budget still within targets,spending rises

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece's 1998 budget kept within targets in January-April but spending was higher than projected, Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday.

    A rise in public spending was due to higher interest payments and a rise in state subsidies following the drachma's 13.8 devaluation in mid-March, Mr. Christodoulakis told a news conference.

    The government was forced to issue more three-, six- and twelve-month Treasury bills to deal with higher debt servicing because of the appreciation in foreign currencies, he said.

    Economists fear that higher spending will scotch the government's efforts to achieve its budget target for a lower public sector borrowing requirement this year.

    Mr. Christodoulakis announced that budgetary revenue totalled 2,647 billion drachmas in January-April from 2,304 billion in the same period of last year.

    The figure meets 28.2 percent of the annual target, with income from Value Added Tax meeting 31.7 percent of the target.

    Budgetary spending on interest payments in January-April totalled 1,143 billion drachmas from 1,007 billion in the corresponding period last year, meeting 35.5 percent of the target for 1998.

    The government expects spending on interest to total 3,220 billion drachmas in the whole year.

    The budget's primary spending on wages, pensions and grants totalled 2,178 billion drachmas up from 1,853 billion last year, meeting 30.2 percent of 1998's target.

    Consumer spending by ministries totalled 85 billion drachmas, up from 56 billion in the same period of 1997. This year's four-month figure represents 13.2 percent of the annual target.

    The budgetary borrowing requirement (net deficit) in January-April totalled 673 billion drachmas up from 556 billion last year, meeting 64.3 percent of 1998's target, Mr. Christodoulakis said.

    Athens News Agency

    [20] Greek bonds unscathed by Asian crisis

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday that the domestic bond market was untouched by a crisis in Asian financial markets.

    "There are absolutely no repercussions in the domestic bond market from the Asian crisis," Mr. Christodoulakis told reporters.

    He predicted a gradual decline in interest rates on state securities in line with an expected fall in consumer price inflation.

    The minister also presented the ministry's programme of auctions for state securities in the second half of June and July.

    The government's auction schedule is as follows:

    • Three-year bonds on June 22
    • Twelve-month T-bills on June 29
    • Ten-year bonds on July 6
    • Three- and six-month T-bills on July 13
    • Fifteen-year bonds on July 20
    • One-year T-bills on July 27
    Athens News Agency

    [21] Merchants' main concerns detailed in report

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    Tax issues and illicit competition are the main problems currently facing the country's merchants, according to an initial report by the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE).

    The report was made in cooperation with the National Labour Institute.

    The report also revealed that information for merchants concerning measures, decisions and prospects at the European Union level is inadequate.

    In light of a meeting scheduled with Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, ESEE sent a memorandum to her on issues which must be discussed for solutions to be found.

    Among others, they concern the Community Support Framework, development of an electronic trade system nationwide, modernisation of the trade code and promotion of a draft law regulating illicit competition, free competition, sales and offers.

    In another development, a series of additional training programmes for small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) has already started regarding the economy and administration, marketing, sales and management issues.

    Athens News Agency

    [22] Greek stocks in U-turn as domestic players return to the fold

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greek stocks yesterday partially reversed a plunge in the previous session, recouping part of sharp losses linked to a crisis in Asian financial markets.

    The general index ended 3.81 percent higher at 2,373.66 points, reversing an early decline.

    Trading was moderate to active with turnover at 53.5 billion drachmas.

    Investors, mainly domestic, returned to market as buyers, seeking bargains in blue chips following a recent sharp drop in several stocks, brokers said.

    In addition, a firmer domestic bond market encouraged sentiment.

    Institutional investors, especially from abroad, had dumped stock in a bid to recoup some of their losses in Asian markets.

    Sector indices scored gains.

    Banks rose 4.61 percent, Insurance increased 2.99 percent, Investment was 3.33 percent higher, Leasing ended 2.09 percent up, Industrials rose 2.80 percent, Construction jumped 5.71 percent, Miscellaneous rose 4.65 percent and Holding increased 3.31 per cent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 4.10 percent higher.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 204 to 37 with another 9 issues unchanged.

    Macedonia-Thrace Bank, Athens Bank, Mediterranean Invest, Kalpinis, Minoan Lines, Xiosbank, Rilken, Altek and Mytilineos scored the biggest percentage gains hitting the daily 8.0 limit up.

    Aspis Invest, Boutaris, General Warehouses, Seafarm Ionian, Fourlis, Xylemporia and St George Mills suffered the heaviest losses.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 39,900 drachmas, Ergobank at 25,440, Alpha Credit Bank at 26,600, Delta Dairy at 3,875, Titan Cement at 18,395, Intracom at 12,400 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8, 000.

    Athens News Agency

    [23] Greece asks EU to see report on Olympic Airways over share cap rise

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    Greece has asked the European Union for a progress report on a survival plan for Olympic Airways that will help to determine whether the government can release the latest instalment of a share capital rise, Transport Minister Tasos Mantelis told a news conference yesterday.

    The report by Deloitte and Touche requested by the government reviews progress in the restructuring plan for the national carrier, whose operations were severely disrupted by strikes in the spring, said Mr. Mantelis in reply to a reporter's question.

    An earlier plan to revitalise OA failed, delaying the EU's approval for instalments in a phased share capital rise. The latest instalment is 35 billion drachmas. The strikes and go-slows were sparked by the government's new restructuring plan, which was passed as law.

    The plan aims to cut costs and streamline operations over five years to try to pre-empt the airline's closure. Operations were now closer to normal and any cancellations were being carried out deliberately as part of OA's business plan, Mr. Mantelis said.

    In addition, management was due to give the government a report on OA's operations and finances by the end of the month, he said.

    The minister was also asked to comment on a visit to Greece by officials of the International Pilots' Union (IFALPA) to inspect air traffic control systems around the country.

    The findings of the inspections will determine whether Greek airports are placed on a blacklist compiled by IFALPA.

    Mr. Mantelis said the eight officials on Monday visited new radar installations at Athens airport, which he said were among the most modern in Europe.

    The delegation, which is due to visit Iraklio airport on Crete yesterday, was impressed by the radar installations in Athens, he said.

    Greek air traffic controllers have so far refused to operate the new radar system delivered by Thomson of France due to the Civil Aviation Authority's refusal to grant them extra pay.

    Finally Mr. Mantelis, who is also communications minister, gave details of his ministry's programme to improve facilities for the disabled, pregnant women, the elderly and children.

    The ministry had awarded a paraplegics' group 10 licences to run taxis suitable for people with difficulties in movement; and facilities including ramps were gradually being improved in public transport, airports, post offices and in telephone communica tions, he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [24] Bank of Piraeus named financial intermediary in EU programme

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    Bank of Piraeus, a private Greek listed bank, has been chosen as financial intermediary in a European Union financial programme called ECIP (European Community Investment Partners).

    The EU Commission's programme includes banks from EU and non-EU member countries that manage European financial assistance in their countries.

    The pan-European network totals 141 banks from 72 countries.

    Greece is participating through the Bank of Piraeus and the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank, which is also listed on the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Athens News Agency

    [25] National computer group to launch information technology drive

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    The Association of Informatics Enterprises (SEPE) said yesterday it would launch a media campaign to promote a wider use of information technology throughout the country.

    SEPE's leaders told a news conference that information and telecommunications technology could make a decisive contribution to economic, social and cultural development.

    "(The government and politicians) have failed to realise the priority that should be given to the dissemination of new technologies and they are neither in a position to adopt them in the state machinery nor help the public to educate their children," a SEPE official said.

    The association identified what it saw as the stumbling blocks to progress, and offered the following solutions:

    • Creation of a modern telecoms infrastructure, requiring the immediate liberalisation of telecoms services and introduction of a new regulatory framework
    • A higher level of knowledge among the public, especially children and young people. Information technology and Internet access should be offered at all levels of education, especially in primary education. Information technology should also be a priority in vocational training, linked to financing programmes for the purchase of home computers, known as private projects
    • Modernisation of public administration by means of information technology. Outsourcing and the creation of a directory of suppliers should be established, and changes effected in the way information technology projects are carried out
    • Information drives for the public on the decisive role of information technology in society. SEPE hopes for political backing for its own campaign
    • Competitive information technology companies

    SEPE called on the government to make changes to the law and take practical measures in order to avoid the creation of monopolies, barring firms from the market.

    Also needed was protection for small and medium sized enterprises in the sector that are creating pioneering products and services, SEPE said.

    Athens News Agency

    [26] Thessaloniki-Sofia air link

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    Direct flights between Thessaloniki and Sofia will start on June 29. The air link anticipates three flights a week, namely, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays. Flights will be carried out with Russian-built aircraft belonging to Bulgaria's Balkan Airline s, with a seating capacity of between 35-44 passengers. Speaking at a press conference at the Bulgarian consulate in Thessaloniki yesterday, Bulgarian consul Ili Sivachev said that the air link will contribute to better service for hundreds of Greek busi ness people active in Bulgaria and the approximately 6,000 Greek students studying in the neighbouring country.
    Athens News Agency

    [27] Insurance for soccer players

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    The insurance firm Ellinovretaniki Zimion has paid compensation of 488 million drachmas to date to soccer players in the first, second and third divisions of the Union of Professional Soccer Teams (EPAE), the company announced. A two-year contract conclud ed between EPAE and the firm concerns coverage for soccer players in case of loss of ability to work as well as non-hospital and hospital benefits.
    Athens News Agency

    [28] New National Bank building planned

    Athens 17/06/1998 (ANA)

    National Bank is planning to build a new administration building at the corner of Aiolou and Sophocleous streets. Architectural tendering has already been proclaimed and the architects Eirini Sakellaridou, Morfo Papanikolaou, Fotios Lambrinos, Alexandra E conomidou and Maria Pollani have been selected for the first prize. The study group's adviser is noted Italian architect Mario Bota. The second prize was awarded to a study group of architect Nikos Valsamakis and the third to the group of architect Costas Kyriakidis.
    Athens News Agency

    [29] AMAN General Assembly backs freedom of movement of press

    LIMASSOL 17/06/1998 (ANA/CNA)

    The Alliance of Mediterranean News Agencies (AMAN) expressed yesterday "support for the right of all journalists to move freely throughout Cyprus in the exercise of their duties".

    The decision was taken at the end of the deliberations of the 7th General Assembly of the Alliance, held in Limassol, Cyprus.

    Monday, the Chairman of the Cyprus News Agency Board, Anthos Lykavigis, referred to the problem Greek and Turkish Cypriot journalists face due to obstacles imposed by the Turkish Cypriot illegal regime in the northern occupied part of the island.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony of the General Assemlby, Mr. Lykavgis stressed that Cypriot journalists can travel anywhere in the world to cover events, but cannot move freely in their own homeland.

    Meanwhile, during the discussions that took place yesterday at the General Assembly, the question of Algerian journalists killed in the line of duty was also raised.

    The Assembly expressed its solidarity with Algerian journalists, and condemned terrorism against journalists as an attack on the freedom of the press.

    NNA to take over AMAN chair in 1999 : The Lebanese News Agency (NNA) will be the next president of AMAN after a unanimous decision of the 7th General Assembly of the Alliance.

    On Monday, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) took over the one-year presidency of the Alliance, until the 8th General Assembly, to be held in Beirut in June 1999.

    Meanwhile, the French News Agency, AFP, expressed readiness to take over the presidency of AMAN from June 2000 to June 2001. The suggestion was adopted.

    The presidium of the Alliance, until 1999, when NNA will take over comprises CNA (President), the Egyptian News Agency MENA (first Vice- President), NNA (second Vice-President) and the Tunisian News Agency TAP (Secretary General).

    Morocco Agency wins award : The Morocco News Agency (MAP) won the annual prize of AMAN for best news item, after a unanimous proposal by the follow- up committee of the Alliance.

    Athens News Agency

    [30] Greek fighters touch down at airbase

    PAPHOS 17/06/1998 (ANA/CNA)

    The government has pledged that the defence pact between Cyprus and Greece wil continue as long as Turkish expansionism threatens the Republic of Cyprus, Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou said in a statement, issued after four Greek F-16 fighters landed at Paphos airbase.

    Two of the aircraft have already left.

    According to CNA sources, the arrival of the four F-16 and a C-130 transport plane gave the opportunity to Greek armed forces officers to get an on-the-spot briefing of the airbase and its operational capabilities and allow them to inspect installations .

    Mr. Omirou said the landing of the Greek warplanes at the "Andreas Papandreou" military airbase "is part of the implementation of the joint defence pact between Cyprus and Greece".

    "The 'Andreas Papandreou' airbase has proved to be operationally ready and ready to fulfill its mission", he added.

    The minister said the landing of the aircraft conveys a "specific political message: that the defence pact exists and will develop as long as there is Turkish expansionism".

    The governments of Cyprus and Greece agreed in November 1993 on a joint defence pact which would provide Cyprus with Greek air, sea and land cover in the event of a fresh Turkish offensive.

    Some 35,000 well equipped Turkish troops continue to occupy Cyprus' northern areas since they invaded in 1974.

    Strict security measures were in force at the airbase and access to the base was forbidden to journalists.

    Athens News Agency

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