Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-04-08
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 08/04/1997 (ANA)
- Greek battalions to be stationed in Tirana, Vlore
- Greece 'a stone's throw from EMU': Papantoniou
- Defence undersecretary in US
- Fears of arms smuggling from Albania
- US envoy confers with justice ministry on copyright
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greek battalions to be stationed in Tirana, Vlore
Italy has proposed that the main Greek battalion participating in the
multinational peace force in Albania be stationed in Tirana, with another
company in Vlore, according to an announcement by Defence Minister Akis
The minister said the battalion will consist of both regular soldiers and
volunteers with a five year tour of duty. There will be no need to include
conscripts in the Greek corps, as already 1,000 volunteers have applied, he
said. The multinational force is expected to be ready to depart at the
beginning of next week.
Government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said later that the Greek
government had agreed to the Italian proposal concerning the stationing of
a Greek batallion in Tirana and a company in Vlore.
Athanassakis said the government considered the issue concerning the
stationing of the Greek contingent ''closed'' at the present stage.
He added that only the issue of access routes and road axes remained open
and that this matter would be dealt with soon.
Replying to questions, the spokesman said the government believed that the
Greek contingent's role could be more substantial if stationed in the areas
initially indicated by Athens.
Athanassakis reiterated that Greece was in no way ''playing with the
spheres of influence in Albania''.
''The presence of the Greek force is related only to security and stability
in the region as well as with the humanitarian aid which will be sent,''
Tsohatzopoulos met today with Coalition of the Left and Progress leader
Nikos Constantopoulos for talks on developments in Albania, the Cyprus
problem, Greek-Turkish relations and Greece's role at the Intergovernmental
He clarified that the purpose of the multinational force to be sent to
Albania was for procedures to be set in motion in June or July for the
holding of general elections in the neighbouring country, the disarming of
civilians and to secure the safe distribution of humanitarian aid.
Tsohatzopoulos said it was only natural for ''different desires'' to be
expressed by the countries participating in the force regarding the
geographical disposition of the troops, adding that it was not impossible
for some ''combination'' of these desires to be attained.
Replying to reporters' questions on Greek-Turkish relations, Tsohatzopoulos
said it was not possible to talk in terms of a ''new climate''.
''Between a 'new climate' and Turkey's positive initiatives there exists a
clear gap,'' the minister said, adding that the question was whether Turkey
genuinely wanted to come closer to Europe and was prepared to abide by the
rules of international law, in which case the road to Europe would open up,
''or whether they are the usual moves''.
''Time will tell,'' Tsohatzopoulos said.
Greece 'a stone's throw' from EMU: Papantoniou
National Economy Minister Yannos Papantoniou told an Economist Conference
here today Greece was just a stone's throw away from meeting the criteria
of the European Union's Maastricht treaty and called for decisive action in
both the public and private sectors to bridge the remaining gap.
The annual "Roundtable with the Greek Government" held by the Economist
Intelligence Unit opened last night with a speech by Germany's former
foreign minister Hans Dietrich Genscher.
Papantoniou, saying Greece was the only EU member state to have made such
great strides towards convergence in such a short time, called for a faster
rate of privatisation and share offers, the deregulation of the markets,
the attraction of private capital for public works and support in making
Greek enterprises more competitive.
He predicted that the public deficit would fall to 4.2% of the GNP by the
end of the year and that inflation would drop to 4.5%.
Over the next five to ten years, added Papantoniou, it was expected that
the inflow of foreign capital would continue at an increased rate,
irrespective of the level of interest rates due to the trust displayed by
He dismissed concern over the large current accounts deficit, saying that
over the next two to three years it was expected to be of the order of 4.5
to five billion dollars, but would be easily subsidised.
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou told the conference the Greek
government would adhere to the implementation of the convergence programme
as well as its development programme, while privatisations would go ahead
as scheduled, with significant structural changes allowing for an improved
operation of the market and general business environment.
Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis spoke of the need for an
expansion of the tax base in Greece over the next few years, along with a
gradual reduction in the tax burden. He stressed the Greek government would
to make a greater effort to manage the public debt.
Democratic Socialism Movement leader Dimitris Tsovolas called for more
social justice and solidarity on the part of the European Union towards
Greece. He contended that the Maastricht treaty led to an inhumane and
extreme form of neoliberalism. Greece should not have as its priority the
convergency of a few unrealistic macro-economic indicators but should aim
at a more populist economic policy and a social policy more characteristic
of a welfare state.
Federation of Greek Industries president Andreas Kanellopoulos complained
of insufficent privatisation, infrastructure problems, overvaluation of the
drachma which undermined the competitiveness of Greek products and too much
state intervention. He called for a reduction in public spending,
emphasising that despite progress that had been made in the Greek economy,
the problems remained.
In statements later, Papantoniou assured that the government would not
introduce new fiscal measures, despite the shortfall in state revenue in
March, and expressed optimism that by the end of the year there would be no
Papantoniou said that revenue inflows would pick up in May because of the
taxes to be levied, with retroactive force, under the provisions of the new
Acknowledging the shortfall in revenue, Papantoniou underlined that it
pertained to non-tax income of a temporary nature, since the 60 billion
drachma reduction in March in Bank of Greece and Hellenic Telecommunications
Organisation (OTE) dividends would be made up over the next few months.
Defence Undersecretary in US
Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis, currently heading a Western
European Union delegation to the US within the framework of the WEU's
Transatlantic Forum, said the visit was designed to find ways the European
Union's defence wing could work together with NATO towards peace, stability
and security in Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, the ANA's New York
"Greece assumes the WEU presidency on 1 January 1998. The purpose of our
visit here is to have contacts with various US officials and to answer any
questions... the American public might have about the WEU's intentions,
chiefly with regard to NATO," the Undersecretary said in an interview in
New York yesterday.
He stressed there were no differences of opinion between the two defence
"We are particularly interested in the ways these two organisations can
cooperate... we simply want to ensure that the way in which expansion
towards the east will occur, the way new countries are included in the
Atlantic Alliance, will result in as few 'tremors' and concerns as possible
on the part of Russia, which of course is interested in what happens around
it," explained Apostolakis. He added that progress had been made and the
details were expected to be worked out easily.
Turning to Greek policy regarding military flights over Cyprus, the Defence
Undersecretary observed that agrement had been reached with Turkey not to
carry out major military exercises in the Aegean during July and August,
chiefly to avoid hindering the movement of tourists, which was of interest
to both countries. He added that this period could be extended by perhaps
two weeks either way.
"What has been called a moratorium on flights over Cyprus in reality does
not exist... if discussions reaches a phase where some facilitation is
required on the part of the Cypriot government, then the Cypriot government
will decide," he stressed, adding:
"We must make clear and I want to stress that these flights over Cyprus by
Greek planes are legal, following the approval of the Cypriot government,
while flights by Turkish aircraft over Cyprus have no legal foundation and
above all do not have the prior approval of the Cypriot government.
Replying to a question on the composition of the Greek contingent in the
multinational peace force for Albania, Apostolakis said the contingent
would be supported by a medical and mechanised unit, with the possibility
of assisting in practical terms, such as transporting bread-manufacturing
"...We hope that that it will not be necessary to use force, for that is
not the purpose (of our presence). The goal is to keep channels of
communcation open, the roads leading from Tirana to the airports, roads
connecting major towns. That is the duty of the Greek unit. It is not
exactly to police, but to help the Albanian government during this phase of
He noted that the Albanian government had asked for Greece's assistance in
every area, such as humanitarian aid, which had already been sent, and
financial assistance. Finally, following a request from the Albanian
government, Greece would be helping to reorganise the Albanian armed forces
and its police, he said.
Meanwhile, with regard to Turkey, Apostolakis commented:
"Every now and then Turkey makes some moves in order to impress, some
rhetorical declarations, which unfortunately are not followed up by action
which would decrease the tension between the two countries."
Fears of arms smuggling from Albania
Greek authorities are increasingly concerned that weapons looted during the
recent insurgency in southern Albania are finding their way into the hands
of this country's underworld.
The arrest yesterday of two Greek nationals at the Albanian border in
possession of three Kalashnikov assault rifles, three hand grenades and
ammunition, underlined authorities' fears.
According to reports, Christos Makridis, 34, a depot master for the
interstate bus company KTEL, along with 64-year-old farmer Vasilios Gotsis,
have been charged with illegally importing and possessing arms as well as
trading in arms.
An estimated 600,000 military weapons are currently circulating in Albania
after being taken from military camps during the unrest.
US envoy confers with justice ministry on copyright
US Ambassador to Greece Thomas Niles today visited Justice Minister
Evangelos Yiannopoulos to raise the issue of intellectual property rights
and the loss being incurred by US beneficiaries from the illegal use of
films and music.
According to a Justice Ministry announcement, Yiannopoulos told Niles that
a bill to be voted on in Parliament in the next few days contained a
provision foreseeing the establishment of special divisions at the first
instance courts of Athens, Thessaloniki and Piraeus to hear intellectual
Similar divisions will also be set up at appeals courts, the announcement
Today's weather will be partly cloudy with some snowfalls, mostly in the
northeast and scattered showers over the Aegean. Strong to gale force
northerly winds will begin to abate this evening. Temperatures in Athens
will be 5-10C and in Thessaloniki from 3-7C.
Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.205
Pound sterling 434.198 Cyprus pd 527.546
French franc 46.590 Swiss franc 182.285
German mark 156.835 Italian lira (100) 15.908
Yen (100) 212.893 Canadian dlr. 191.595
Australian dlr. 208.003 Irish Punt 416.243
Belgian franc 7.600 Finnish mark 52.384
Dutch guilder 139.376 Danish kr. 41.168
Swedish kr. 34.710 Norwegian kr. 38.571
Austrian sch. 22.283 Spanish peseta 1.856
Portuguese escudo 1.563