Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-04-09
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 09/04/1997 (ANA)
- Economist-Greece conference addresses
- New Democracy party leader's convergence proposals
- Albanian opposition leaders' view of deployment
- Greece, Slovakia sign air transport agreement
- Meeting on southeastern European stability held in Skopje
- Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline discussed at conference
- Business data bank
- Greece "dying", demographic study shows
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
The annual "Roundtable with the Greek Government" held by the Economist
Intelligence Unit, which opened on Monday night, continued yesterday with
speeches by ministers, opposition leaders and foreign guests
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou told the conference that Athens 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 chang es 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 taxpayers' burden. He also stressed that the Greek
government would make a greater effor t to manage the public debt.
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas called for more
social justice and solidarity on the part of the European Union towards
Greece. He claimed that the Maastricht Treaty led to an inhumane and
extreme form of neo-conservatism.
Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) president Andreas Kanellopoulos
complained of insufficient privatisation, infrastructure problems,
overvaluation of the drachma, which he said undermined the competitiveness
of Greek products, and too much state inte rvention. He called for a
reduction in public spending, emphasising that despite progress that had
been made in the Greek economy, the problems remained.
Despite efforts, the Greek economy has still a great distance to cover in
many fronts, Giovanni Ravajio, the head of the European Commission's
economic affairs department said yesterday.
Addressing the "Economist" conference, Mr. Ravajio said Greece had made
satisfactory progress in bringing down inflation and the public deficit,
warning that the situation should be stabilised. This way Greece will meet
the Stability Pact provisions, he said.
Mr. Ravajio said Greece will meet convergence criteria and participate in
the European Monetary Union faster than expected.
Urging the Greek government to make convergence the central focus of its
economic policy "very soon after 1999," he went on to say that Greece's
monetary policy remains "fragile to the possibility of an investors' crisis
of confidence," and that real in terest rates remain excessively high.
Environment and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said more than 7,000
projects, programmes and actions of national, regional and prefectural
importance were underway, stressing their positive implications for the
country's development course.
Mr. Laliotis cited the Egnatia Highway across the breadth of northern
Greece, the Patra-Athens-Thessaloniki-Bulgarian road axis, the Rio-Antirrio
Bridge, the Aheloos River diversion, port and airport projects throughout
Concluding, Development Undersecretary Anna Diamantopoulou yesterday called
on western entrepreneurs to make use of the government's "extremely
favourable incentives" and move their headquarters to Greece.
New Democracy party leader's convergence proposals
Concluding later in the evening, main opposition New Democracy party leader
Costas Karamanlis presented his proposals for the Greek economy's
convergence with the rest of the European Union. He also charged that the
PASOK government's policy doesn't facil itate convergence with the other EU
Mr. Karamanlis said the cost of Greece not entering the European Monetary
Union is "hard to contemplate," adding that a courageous policy of
privatisations should follow.
Albanian opposition leaders' view of deployment
The Greek troops in the multinational force should be deployed in the
southern part and towards the centre of the country, Albanian opposition
leaders told a press conference in Strasbourg yesterday.
Praising Greece's position, Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano, Social
Democratic Party leader Skender Gjinushi and the president of the
Democratic Alliance, Nevitan Ceka, said "Greece's presense is not a concern
for anybody," and that "the Greek governm ent's positions are known and
They said the presence of foreign troops could not be regarded as "a blow
to Albania's independence," as troops of the security force will not be
faced with armed insurgents, "the overwhelming majority of which still keep
arms as an act of defence against the Berisha regime, and in claiming real
The Albanian leaders said the troops in the security force will mostly have
police duties with the aim to assist the legal government of the country to
proceed to democratic elections.
"Only the democratic institutions can guarantee democracy, not people,"
they said, hinting that Europe has relied for too long "on Berisha's
The Albanian leaders were visiting Strasbourg at the invitation of the
European Parliament's Socialist Group.
Greece,Slovakia sign air transport agreement
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos held prolonged talks here yesterday
with his Slovakian counterpart Pavel Hamzik as well as with the country's
President, Mihal Kovac, and Prime Minister, Vladimir Meciar.
According to reports, the talks ascertained a very good level of Greek-
The two foreign ministers signed an agreement on air transport in the
framework of bilateral cooperation, while the visit of National Defence
Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos to Bratislava on Sept. 25-26 was also
The two sides also ascertained possibilities for further improving economic
cooperation between the two countries, such as in the tourism sector, which
is "supplementary" since Slovakia is indicated for winter tourism and
Greece for sea tourism. The vol ume of trade exchanges, limited to only
US$44 million last year, can be increased considerably through the
exploitation of existing potential.
Mr. Pangalos assured his interlocutors of Greece's support for Slovakia's
efforts for accession to NATO, the European Union and the OECD. In relation
to NATO, he said Greece rejects the creation of new dividing lines in
Europe resulting from the selecti ve accession of new members to NATO and
shares the desire of countries to participate in European security. He also
maintained that Russia's sensitivities should be taken into consideration
during NATO's enlargement process.
Pointing to various reservations by Brussels on the democratic nature of
certain candidate countries for NATO accession, Mr. Pangalos said no one
can invoke a lack of democratic nature at a time when Turkey is a NATO
member, where in no way is there res pect for the principles of democracy,
human rights or freedom of expression.
In connection with Slovakia's accession to the OECD, Mr. Pangalos said that
in this case criteria must be purely economic and various political
preconditions must not be necessary.
Commenting on the issue of an Islamic upsurge in Turkey raised by his
Slovak interlocutors, Mr. Pangalos said it constitutes the reaction of the
Turkish people to the so-called democracy their politicians are offering to
Mr. Pangalos left Bratislava for the Caucasus region yesterday afternoon to
pay official visits to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. He will also sign a
series of bilateral agreements in these countries.
Meeting on southeastern European stability held in Skopje
A meeting on "Stability and Good Neighbourliness in Southeastern Europe"
was held in Skopje yesterday in the framework of the Royaumont Initiative.
About 30 delegations from European countries, the United States, the
European Union and the OSCE, among others, participated.
The meeting focused on a general review of good neighbourliness, the
contribution of the media to stability and inter-regional dialogue,
contacts and cooperation in sectors such as education, the society of
citizens, an exchange of information on econom ic cooperation initiatives
and stability measures in the security sector.
Greece participated with a five-member representation headed by the chief
of its liaison office in Skopje, Ambassador Alexandros Mallias.
Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline discussed at conference
A two-day conference on security and protection of the environment from
overland oil pipelines and sea terminals ended in Alexandroupoli yesterday.
The conference, organised by the European Commission in the framework of
the "Thermie" programme, was attended by more than 100 representatives of
Greek and foreign companies active in the construction and management of
oil and gas distribution networks .
A preliminary study on the environmental implications of the proposed
Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline was presented at the conference, as well
as its significance for local communities and cooperation in the political,
social, economic and energy sec tors in the Balkans.
Meanwhile, an ANA dispatch from Sofia yesterday reported that Bulgarian
Public Works Minister Nikola Karantimov said the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil
pipeline project will be revised.
"Before we proceed to official negotiations with Greece and Russia, we must
clarify the political and economic aspects of the project," Mr. Kantamirov
was quoted as saying, and adding that a new technical and economic study
was required for Bulgarian in terests.
Another report stated that Russia and Bulgaria yesterday arrived at an
agreement regarding the development of a network for the transportation and
supply of Russian natural gas to Bulgaria.
The agreement will be signed by Bulgarian Prime Ministers Stefan Sofianksi
and his Russian counterpart Victor Chernomyrdin during the former's
upcoming visit to Moscow.
Business data bank
The Athens Chamber of Small Manufacturers (BEA) has set up a data bank
complete with options for business cooperation with prospective partners
abroad. The bank provides information on foreign importers, those
interested in participating in trade fairs an d missions abroad. For more
information call 36.35.313-9.
Greece `dying`, demographic study shows
Greece is heading with mathematical precision towards the "abyss" of
demographic disaster due to the country's extremely low birth rate and
gradual ageing of the population, according to a study carried out over
four years by Greek-American professor of m edicine and biochemistry at the
University of California, Mihalis Giokas.
The findings of the study will be presented at the 3rd Science conference
of Medical Students of Greece and the 3rd Paneuropean Conference of Medical
Students which will be held from April 11-13 at Ayia Pelagia, Iraklion.
According to the study, Greece has a birth rate of just 1.4 per cent - one
of the lowest in Europe - which, together with the 300,000 abortions
annually, and the 4,000 deaths and 38,000 injuries in road accidents each
year "will most certainly lead to b iological decline and to fundamental
and undesirable changes in Greek society".
In the introductory part of his findings, Mr. Giokas underlines that "only
a small percentage of the people and leadership have realized the enormous
danger facing the country".
The majority of Greeks are unconcerned, Mr. Giokas says, even though the
figures clearly show that Greece is slowly dying.
According to Mr. Giokas's calculations, if the birth rate remains at the
same low level (1.3-1.4 per cent), Greece's population in the year 2015
will be reduced by 500,000 as compared to today.
By way of comparison, Turkey, despite all its problems, will have an
estimated population of 91.8 million.
Wednesday's weather is expected to be party cloudy with possible snowfalls
in the north. Light rain is likely in other areas, particularly the
Aegean. Winds will be north-northeasterly, moderate in the west to strong
to gale-force towards the southern Aegean, easing later in the
day. Temperatures in Athens will range from 5-12C, in Thessaloniki from
Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 267.542
Pound sterling 434.198 Cyprus pd 525.958
French franc 46.412 Swiss franc 181.367
German mark 156.161 Italian lira (100) 15.836
Yen (100) 211.842 Canadian dlr. 193.004
Australian dlr. 207.705 Irish Punt 414.656
Belgian franc 7.569 Finnish mark 52.376
Dutch guilder 138.860 Danish kr. 40.993
Swedish kr. 34.916 Norwegian kr. 38.529
Austrian sch. 22.191 Spanish peseta 1.850
Portuguese escudo 1.557