Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-04-17
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 17/04/1997 (ANA)
- 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
- 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
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
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
''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
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
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
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
According to the central command of the multinational force, the transport
and deployment of the Greek contingent will be completed by April
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.
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-
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