Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-04-10
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 10/04/1997 (ANA)
- Alternate FM meets with Dutch EU officials on relations with Turkey
- Seminar on Imia tomorrow
- Final approval on Albania contingent due next week
- Premier urges bolder initiatives to strengthen economy
- Convergence programme a 'one-way street'
- New tax shock troops hit the streets
- Bulgarian Foreign Minister to visit Greece
- Mortgage Bank's pre-tax profits rise in '96
- Health Ministry initiative to tackle illegal drug use
- Airline passengers give Athens airport a 'vote of confidence'
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Alternate FM meets with Dutch EU officials on relations with Turkey
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Undersecretary Yiannos
Kranidiotis had talks today with the diplomatic delegation of the Dutch EU
presidency which was returning from consultations in Ankara.
The three-member delegation had talks in Ankara yesterday within the
framework of the EU presidency's mediation initiative aimed at the
normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations.
Speaking at yesterday's session of the Economist's ''Roundtable with the
Greek Government'', Kranidiotis said Athens saw in a positive light a
proposal for an exchange of ''scientific views'' between Greek and Turkish
experts concerning procedural matters related to relations between the two
Kranidiotis said today's talks with the delegation of the EU presidency
concerned precisely this issue, adding that the delegation conveyed
Turkey's views to Greece.
He said there were no final conclusions from the talks because Prime
Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos had to be
Kranidiotis clarified that the proposal for the formation of a committee of
experts came from the Dutch presidency and that Athens ''views this process
within the framework of confidence-building between Greece and Turkey''.
After thanking the Dutch presidency for its efforts, Papandreou referred to
his recent private meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo.
''The Presidency has its own specific thoughts, which I shall convey to the
prime minister. We shall see whether the two sides agree to the proposals
of the Dutch presidency. Our positions are quite clear. We are now waiting
for an unequivocal statement on the part of Turkey,'' Papandreou said.
Asked by reporters, both Papandreou and Kranidiotis declined to refer to
the views of the Turkish side as the latter were conveyed today by the
They underlined however that Turkey must respect international law and
reject the use of force as a means of resolving any problems it may have
In a related development, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the
proposal for the formation of a committee of experts referred to by
Kranidiotis last night constituted ''an element of policy within the
framework of broadening ways of resolving problems in Greek-Turkish
Today's talks, Reppas added, between Papandreou, Kranidiotis and the EU
presidency delegation was ''within the framework of the effort to resolve
the problems in relations'' between Greece and Turkey.
Referring to the conditions set by Greece as prerequisites for any
improvement in relations with neighbouring Turkey, Reppas reiterated that
these were refraining from using force, Ankara's retracting its threats of
war, respect by Turkey for international law and recourse to the International
Court at the Hague for resolving differences of a legal nature.
The spokesman also stressed that the normalisation of Greek-Turkish
relations also presupposed a ''positive response'' from Ankara to Greece's
Asked whether there had been any positive initiatives on the part of Turkey,
Reppas said recent statements by Turkish Chief of Staff General Ismail
Hakki Karadayi and other officials expressing the desire for good relations
between the two countries could be viewed as ''positive initiatives''.
''However,'' Reppas added, ''there is a distance between these positions
and the policy being pursued by Turkey''.
Seminar on Imia tomorrow
The Andreas Papandreou Institute for Strategic and Development Studies
(ISTAME) has organised a meeting tomorrow on ''The Positions of International
Organisations on the Imia Crisis''.
The aim of the meeting is to present and record the positions of international
organisations such as the United Nations, NATO, the European Union, the
Western European Union and the OSCE on the most recent major crisis in
The two neighbours and NATO members nearly went to war in January last year
after Ankara openly disputed Greece's sovereignty of the uninhabited rocky
islet of Imia in the Aegean.
The meeting will also examine issues which have arisen within the entire
framework of Greek-Turkish relations and focus on the stance of the Greek
media concerning the crisis last January.
Speakers at the meeting will include Eurodeputies, academics and journalists.
Final approval for Albania contingent due next week
The government said today that the Government Council for Foreign Policy
and Defence (KYSEA) would meet on 18 April to approve the despatch of the
Greek contingent to participate in the multinational protection force in
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas added however that ''a few dozen men
from the Greek forece'' would go to Albania in the middle of next week to
make preparations prior to the arrival of the main contingent which would
comprise over 700 troops.
Reppas reiterated that the Greek contingent would be based in Tirana and
Vlore ''but at a later stage it could move to southern Albania, with the
primary mission of controlling access routes to Kakavia and Krystallopigi
as well as to ports in the Albanian south through which the humanitarian
aid will pass.''
Asked who took the decision for the despatch of the Greek contingent, the
spokesman replied that it was taken by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and
the competent ministers.
Premier urges bolder initiatives to strengthen economy
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday called on private enterpreneurs to
undertake bolder initiatives that will allow the economy to make the
qualitative leap necessary to face increasingly stiffer international
Speaking at yesterday's session of the Economist's "Roundtable with the
Greek Government", which opened in Athens on Monday, Mr. Simitis said this
leap entailed the speedy stabilisation of prices, reduction in fiscal
deficits and high rates of growth, which required very specific forms of
These concern the capacity to act effectively in a number of fields,
including control of costs, a dynamic perspective for business growth
rather than opportunistic profitability, creation or utilisation of
innovations and research activities, restructuring with a view to growth in
size that affords greater risk-taking and access to larger capital sources,
establishment of brand names, tuning in to the messages of the markets and
making good use of the conditions created by economic policy.
The modernisation of public administration, implementation of decentralisation
policies and the strengthening of the adjustment of businesses to new
realities are among the priorities of the Greek government, he stressed.
Convergence programme 'a one-way street'
The successful implementation of Greece's convergence programme with the
European Union is the only way forward for the country, Development
Minister Vasso Papandreou stressed today in her opening speech at the
"Shaping a national policy for the future of the Greek economy" conference.
The government has targetted fiscal reform and monetary stability through a
reduction of deficits and a stable parity of the drachma, Papandreou
"These goals much be achieved for the convergence programme," she
At the same time, she added, the government's development programme aims to
boost the competitiveness of the Greek economy through the completion of
basic infrastructure works, upgrading human resources and improving
The effective implementation of the development programme will lead to an
increase in the domestic product and, subsequently, to admittedly small but
real increases in workers' incomes.
So far, she said, the successful implementation of the convergence
programme and the fall in inflation and interest rates as well as deficits
as significantly improved the investment climate.
The successes of the economic policies applied to date, she said, can be
attributed to the realism imbued in the convergence and development
programmes and to their acceptance by a majority of the Greek people.
New tax shock troops hit the streets
The much-vaunted Economic Crimes Squad (SDOE) went into operation today,
with three-member teams of specially-trained professionals conducting
surprise tax checks on businesses in Athens, Thessaloniki and Piraeus.
Visiting the offices of the new squad in Athens today, National Economy and
Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told SDOE employees to undertake
checks on "large and small".
"The finance ministry is counting on increased credible tax checks to
contain tax evasion and to combat economic crime," Papantoniou said.
There will be 500 surprise audits carried out today on pre-determined
locations, primarily to detect the illegal distribution of fuel, cigarettes
and fresh produce as well as the non-payment of Value Added Tax.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister to visit Greece
Bulgaria's caretaker Foreign Minister Stoyan Stalev will pay working visit
to Greece from April 14-16 at the invitation of Foreign Minister Theodoros
The despatch added that Mr. Stalev would be received by President Kostis
Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Parliament President
Apostolos Kaklamanis and have talks with Mr. Pangalos.
Quoting Bulgarian foreign ministry spokesman Radko Vlaidkov, Mr. Stalev's
talks will focus on Bulgaria's desire to join NATO and become a member of
the European Union.
During his contacts here, Mr. Stalev is also expected to discuss the
general situation in the Balkans and bilateral cooperation issues,
particularly commercial and economic relations and cross-border programmes.
Mortgage Bank's pre-tax profits rise in '96
Speaking at the National Mortgage Bank of Greece's (EKTE) general assembly
yesterday, bank governor Vassilis Rapanos said EKTE's pre-tax profits
amounted to 36.08 billion drachmas compared to 20.06 billion drachmas in
the previous fiscal year.
He further said that the price of the bank's shares at the Athens stock
exchange increased by 59 per cent in 1996 against an increase of 22 per
cent of the bank share indicator.
Mr. Rapanos added that apart from the bank's improved productivity and
efficiency indicators, efforts are underway to modernise and develop EKTE
and that a series of projects aimed at a gradual change in the bank's basic
structures and functions has alr eady been approved.
Health ministry initiative to tackle illegal drug use
The health ministry announced a series of measures yesterday to tackle the
problem of illegal drug abuse in Greece at a time when heroin-related
deaths are increasing.
At the same time, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said that the government
was not considering a change in the law against illegal drugs, during a
response to a question tabled by PASOK deputy Nasos Alevras.
Health Minister Costas Geitonas said there are no "magic solutions" for
this problem and called on whoever has any to come forward. The triptych of
the government's effort to tackle the drug scourge was set out as
- An active upgrading of centres preoccupied with the issue and their close
cooperation with many known centres abroad which have made great achievements
in tackling the problem.
- Action through the organisation against drugs, the establishment of new
centres aimed at decentralising prevention and therapy programmes and in
remote parts of the country as well.
An appropriate registration of data from around the country.
Health Undersecretary Manolis Skoulakis said the turnover stemming from
drug trafficking in Greece is estimated at 450 billion drachmas and called
on every local association or group to organise itself and combat the
Heroin-related deaths claimed 10 victims in eight days recently.
Airline passengers give Athens airport a 'vote of confidence'
Athens' Hellenikon airport has been voted the world's most improved airport
by long-haul airline passengers, the International Air Transport Association
(IATA) said yesterday.
Athens was bottom of the poll last year and for years target of fierce
criticism in the travel industry.
The poll, based on the views of some 55,000 people and covering 54 airports,
chose Singapore's Changi airport and Britain's Manchester as the world's
top two airports. Melbourne came a close third, up from seventh last
Fine weather with long spells of sunshine is forecast for most parts of
Greece today except for the Aegean islands and Crete where it will be
partly cloudy. Winds will be variable, weak to moderate. Athens will be
mostly sunny with temperatures ranging from 3-14C. Similar weather in
Thessaloniki where temperatures will be between 1-13C.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 268.028
Pound sterling 435.409 Cyprus pd 525.760
French franc 46.428 Swiss franc 182.017
German mark 156.205 Italian lira (100) 15.820
Yen (100) 212.129 Canadian dlr. 193.043
Australian dlr. 209.148 Irish Punt 415.053
Belgian franc 7.572 Finnish mark 52.352
Dutch guilder 138.900 Danish kr. 41.015
Swedish kr. 34.926 Norwegian kr. 38.638
Austrian sch. 22.197 Spanish peseta 1.850
Portuguese escudo 1.559