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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-04-17

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 17/04/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov't to discuss outcome of Malta meetings tonight
  • Prospects for Greek economy 'auspicious', report says
  • Romanian deputies in Greece
  • No problems expected with Easter flights
  • Urban guerrilla group plants bomb at Lancia
  • Greek peacemakers arrive in Albania
  • Sofia will proceed with Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline
  • Injunction filed against A. Papandreou Ekali property
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Gov't to discuss outcome of Malta meetings tonight

Results of a meeting in Malta yesterday between Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Onur Oymen are to be discussed at a meeting tonight chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, said government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, warning against "premature interpretations" of the Malta talks.

According to a report from Malta yesterday, important steps towards finding processes for resolving problems in Greek-Turkish relations were taken during a meeting between Papandreou and Oymen on the sidelines of the European Mediterranean Conference.

Referring to a Dutch European Union presidency proposal for a committee of experts to examine Greek-Turkish relations, Reppas added:

"Greece has expressed the view that two experts committees be created to represent each of the (two) countries and to explore the views of the other side."

It was on that basis, he said, that there was an exchange of views between Papandreou and Oymen.

Replying to reporters' questions later, Reppas said that the proposal for the formation of a committee of experts with the participation of Greek and Turkish representatives was a Greek one.

If the committee is eventually set up, Reppas added, its task will be to explore procedures for the settlement of issues raised by Greece.

The spokesman said Turkey's reply to the Greek proposal was now awaited in order for the committee to be formed.

Reppas clarified that the three conditions set by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos for rapprochement between Athens and Ankara did not constitute prerequisites for the formation of the committee.

He also said that no decision had yet been taken regarding the formation of the committee ''and if there is something positive it is the fact that there was a discussion between Mr. Papandreou and Mr. Oymen''.

Commenting on remarks by Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo who yesterday spoke of a ''breakthrough'' in Greek-Turkish relations, Reppas expressed the view that van Mierlo was most probably referring to the Papandreou-Oymen discussion ''and considered it to be an important event in itself''.

Reppas stressed however that the discussion in Malta yesterday did not go into detail and ''there was no reference to issues with which the committee might be occupied''.

The spokesman added that it was even too early to talk about issues as such, since the committee had not yet been formed, but he cited as an example of an issue that of the Imia islet, while ruling out any possibility of the committee discussing any issue in its substance.

''There are issues which concern respect for international law and sovereign rights which not only do not constitute a subject for discussion in substance but not even the subject of discussion within any procedural context,'' Reppas said.

Replying to other questions, the spokesman said the committee would be made up of ''experts and not politicians or diplomats''.

Commenting on statements reportedly made by a US official, according to which a plan is in currently in progress aimed at securing a settlement of the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish differences as a ''package'', Reppas reiterated Greece's fixed position that the two issues were quite separate.

''Of course, the fact that the Cyprus problem remains outstanding negatively affects the climate of Greek-Turkish relations,'' the spokesman said, adding ''Greece wants there to be procedures for both issues which will lead to a solution of problems in order to enable the consolidation of peace and security in the region.''

Prospects for Greek economy 'auspicious', report says

The Greek economy is going through an ''auspicious'' phase within the framework of the ''long and difficult'' period of adjustment to the other European economies, according to the Institute of Economic and Industrial Studies (IOBE), which generally reflects the views of private initiative.

''This phase,'' according to IOBE's four-monthly report on the Greek economy, ''is characterized by an improvement in the economy's main indicators, coupled with particularly encouraging indications as to the drop in inflation, the revival of economic activity and industrial production and the gradual improvement of public finances.''

The report warns however that the current phase does not necessarily herald the permanent and non-inflationary development of production and employment ''since the necessary bold structural reforms which would heal the major inflexibility and deficiencies in the productive web of the economy continue after a number of years to be absent''.

IOBE criticises the economic policy being implemented by the government ''since it remains focused on economic convergence and continues to relegate the importance of real convergence''.

For 1997, IOBE forecasts a GDP rate of growth of over 3 per cent, compared to the National Economy Ministry estimate of 3.5 per cent.

Noting that ''the nucleus of inflation remains solid'', IOBE describes the current accounts deficit (4.6 billion dollars or 4 per cent of GDP in 1996) as being a cause for concern while ascertaining ''little or no progress'' in the curtailment of public consumer spending and trends towards an ever diminishing increase in fiscal revenue.

The report also expresses concern over import penetration ''because domestic undertakings are losing segments of the market and their profits are declining''.

IOBE meanwhile describes as ''inadequate'' the improvement to date of productivity and competitiveness and notes delays in the government's denationalisation and privatisation programmes as well as in the taking of measures to tackle unemployment.

Echoing statements by Federation of Greek Industries President Iasonas Stratos yesterday, the IOBE report stresses that ''it is imperative that social dialogue concludes at the earliest with bold and concrete solutions''.

Lastly, IOBE sounds the alarm bell over the situation prevailing in social insurance funds, particularly the problems being created by fund deficits and resultant ''invisible public debts''.

''The situation in the country's public finances would appear to be much worse than is reflected by the state's current accounts,'' the institute said, urging reforms in the social security sector.

More specifically, IOBE underlines the need for reforms ''aimed at securing a level of contributions which on the one hand will not discourage the creation of jobs while at the same time enabling the full financial coverage of the domestic social security system, so as not to put at risk the rehabilitation of public finances in the long term''.

Romanian deputies in Greece

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis today received Romania's representatives at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) organisation.

The meeting provided an opportunity for both sides to confirm the traditional relations of cooperation between Athens and Bucharest and their desire to further develop bilateral ties for the benefit of both peoples.

The Romanian delegation restated Romanian interest in joining NATO and other west-European structures and asked for Greece's support, noting that Athens was the first to sign the agreement establishing Romania's association with the European Union.

Kaklamanis referred to a tendency prevailing in the EU for enlargement to be in the direction of the countries of central and eastern Europe rather than the Balkans.

He stressed however that Greece, along with France, Spain, Portugal and Italy wanted more balance, with the participation in the EU also of Balkan countries.

Kaklamanis also underlined the need for the creation of a pan-European security system reaching as far as the Urals, with the highest possible participation of European countries.

No problems expected with Easter flights

Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis today predicted there would be no problems at the country's airports next week (Orthodox Holy Week) or after that, despite work stoppages announced by the civil aviation workers' union (OSYPA) for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Kastanidis said that meetings to be held over the next few days with individual sectors would avert the "revolutionary exercise" being carried out by Alevizopoulos (Vasilis Alevizopoulos, president of OSYPA).

Urban guerrilla group plants bomb at Lancia

The Militant Guerrilla Group has claimed responsibility for an unexploded makeshift bomb placed at the entrance to a showroom of the Italian car manufacturer Lancia, on Athens' Vouliagmenis Avenue last night.

The bomb was defused by security police experts after a call by the group to the private SKAI radio station and the newspaper ELEFTHEROTYPIA shortly after 3am this morning.

The same group had claimed responsibility for another bomb found outside the Alitalia airline offices on the same street early this month, and which was also defused by police experts.

Greek peacemakers arrive in Albania

The first company of Greek troops participating in the multinational peace force in Albania landed at Tirana's airport yesterday without any problems.

The first C-130 transport plane carrying Greek troops landed at 1:10 p.m. local time, followed by four more planes transporting a total of 126 troops, supplies, military vehicles and weaponry. A short time later, the first Turkish troops landed at Tirana airport.

The first company of Greek troops immediately set out for two military bases on the city's western edge, where the main body of the Greek contingent will be stationed, with the exception of a company of troops to be stationed in Vlore.

The Greek embassy's military attache in Tirana, Col. Alexandros Xiros, said the operation was successful, with all details of the operation executed as planned.

According to the central command of the multinational force, the transport and deployment of the Greek contingent will be completed by April 22.

Sofia will proceed with Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Stoyan Stalev said yesterday that his two-day visit to Greece was within the framework of Sofia's efforts to accelerate its accession to the European Union and NATO as well as further strengthening relations with Greece.

Mr. Stalev, who arrived in Greece on Monday, had talks yesterday in Thessaloniki with Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, whom he thanked on behalf of the Sofia government for the continuing shipments of humanitarian aid from Greece.

The talks centred on bilateral relations and in particular Bulgaria's economic ties with northern Greece.

Replying to reporters' questions on the planned construction of the Burgas- Alexandroupoli oil pipeliine, Mr. Stalev said Bulgaria's positions on the project remained unchanged.

Following general elections next Sunday and the formation of a new government, he said, a committee of experts would be set up to push forward implementation of the relevant agreement.

As part of efforts for the development of the Bulgarian economy, Mr. Stalev added that his government decided last Monday to privatise 70 per cent of the refinery installations at Burgas.

Mr. Stalev noted that Greece-based enterprises had shown a strong interest in the privatisation.

On other matters of bilateral interest, Mr. Stalev acknowledged that the waters of the River Nestos were being polluted on the Bulgarian side.

However, he gave his assurance that within the framework of efforts to privatise 500 state-owned firms, Sofia would set about resolving environmental problems "despite the huge cost", in order to attract foreign investors.

Mr. Petsalnikos said Mr. Stalev had assured him that Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear plant, about which fears have been expressed concerning the risk of a Chernobyl-type accident, had been modernised and that all the necessary measures had been taken for its safe operation .

Injunction filed against A. Papandreou Ekali property

Lawyers representing the buyer of a house sold by the late prime minister Andreas Papandreou in 1992, yesterday submitted an application for an injunction against the property of his widow and heir, Dimitra Liani- Papandreou, for the sum of 500 million dra chmas.

The property, located in the Psychiko suburb of Athens, is being contested by three of the late prime minister's children on the basis of a recently discovered will of their grandmother. They argue that the will, bequeathing the property to them, annuls the sale, the proceeds of which were used to build Papandreou's fashionable villa in Ekali.

The application for injuction will be heard on Tuesday. One of the later premier's children, Sophia Papandreou-Katsaneva, said yesterday that the house sold by their father was of great sentimental value to her and her two brothers, and they were only seeking to fulfill their grandmother's last wish, as they had also done with their father.

WEATHER

Unstable weather with sunny spells and intermittent rainfall is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Winds will be northwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens will be partly cloudy with possible rain. Temperatures will be between 5-15C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures ranging from 4- 11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 269.100 Pound sterling 436.678 Cyprus pd 526.554 French franc 46.430 Swiss franc 183.679 German mark 156.121 Italian lira (100) 15.853 Yen (100) 214.103 Canadian dlr. 192.746 Australian dlr. 208.211 Irish Punt 414.656 Belgian franc 7.569 Finnish mark 52.108 Dutch guilder 138.910 Danish kr. 40.983 Swedish kr. 34.978 Norwegian kr. 38.357 Austrian sch. 22.182 Spanish peseta 1.853 Portuguese escudo 1.558

(M.P.)


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