Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-05
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 05/07/1997 (ANA)
- Greece braces for EU energy deregulation
- Tempi railway tunnel inaugurated
- Bulgaria promises return of rate 18th century manuscript
- Greek defence minister views international exercise
- Greece arrests German wanted by Interpol for fraud
- June inflation creeps up
- Vigilence maintained on border with Albania
- German, Greek defence ministers meet on NATO
- No British beef in Greece
- Greece to cooperate with Kazakh oil, gas industry
- US awaiting decision on Aegean, State Dept. says
- Charter arrivals up, but problems remain hoteliers say
- Greek equities finish higher, propelled by blue chips
- Greece gets new interbank system in September
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece braces for EU energy deregulation
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou today underlined the importance of
overhauling Greece's national legislation on energy in order to comply with
European Union ordained deregulation in 2001, and prepare for private
Speaking at a conference on energy organised by the Public Power Corporation's
(DEH) employees union, Papandreou said harmonisation was essential if
Greece was to meet competition in the energy market after 2001.
''The government is determined at the earliest to pass a law determining
the framework for the overall operation of the electricity market so that
DEH will not be unprepared for the system of tough competition which will
be completely new for the corporation,'' Papandreou said.
She welcomed a decision by the EU Commission to allow Greece a four-year
extension for deregulation, which means that Community rules on liberalisation
of the electricity market will come into force in Greece in February
But she warned against complacency, saying the extension should not lead to
procrastination in DEH's adaptation to a new competitive environment.
Dialogue on creating a new institutional framework had already begun
between the government, opposition parties and DEH's management in order to
try to achieve consensus, Papandreou said.
She stressed that DEH's status as a public utility could only be preserved
if the corporation was competitive.
The minister predicted that under deregulation only a small share of the
market would go to the private sector because high investment costs in the
comparatively small Greek market would act as a deterrent.
Disagreeing with Papandrou, the president of DEH's employees' union, Nikos
Exarchos, said that the Development Ministry's plans favoured independent
electricity producers, which undermined DEH's status as a public utility.
Tempi railway tunnel inaugurated
A 5,000-metre railway tunnel that was inaugurated on Friday will reduce by
one hour the time taken to travel between Athens and Thessaloniki by train.
Completion of construction of the Tempi tunnel is scheduled for 1998.
The project, which was carried out by Tempi Joint Venture, is one of the
main infrastructure works in the Greek Railways Organisation's (OSE)
upgrade for the Athens-Thessaloniki line using high-speed trains and a
The project is funded by the European Union's Cohesion Fund and the
"Railways 1994-1999" operational programme. The plan is budgeted at 499
Mecu and with subsidies from the European Regional Development Fund of 294
The project includes building a railway bridge across the Pineios River
with a length of 240 metres and a breadth of 12.5 metres, three small
tunnels with a total length of 950 metres and the main Tempi tunnel with a
length of 4,034 metres.
Tempi will reduce the time of the trip between Athens and Thessaloniki to
four hours from five hours. Another tunnel at Kallidromo, which is due for
construction in 2000, will cut travelling time to 2.5 hours.
The railways project is currently showing a high absorption rate of EU
funds equivalent to one billion drachmas a month. The total budget for the
three tunnels at Tempi, Platamonas and Kallidromo is 600 billion drachmas.
Bulgaria promises return of rare 18th century manuscript
Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov confirmed yesterday that a rare 18th
century manuscript stolen from the autonomous monastic community of Mount
Athos would be returned to its owner.
Stoyanov arrived in Mount Athos early yesterday morning on the final leg of
a three-day official visit to Greece. He was received with the full honours
afforded by the holy community to a leader of an Orthodox country.
Following a service at the Protato Cathedral he visited the Ayios Georgios
Zografos monastery, where he assured the monks that the manuscript
currently on display at a museum in Sofia would be returned.
The priceless 1762 manuscript written by Paissios Hiliendarios was stolen
from the monastery in the 1980s but replaced with a copy, delaying
discovery of the theft.
Efforts have been made to retrieve the manuscript since it surfaced in
Sofia a few years ago.
Greek defence minister views international exercise
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos left for the Ukraine
yesterday to take part in "Cooperative Neighbour 1997" within the
"Partnership for Peace" programme, which is being held in the city of Lvov
between July 1-14.
The exercise includes training for land and air forces from participating
countries. Of NATO countries forces from Greece and the United States are
participating. Other countries taking part are Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Czech
Republic, Estonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM),
Georgia, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia.
Greece is participating in the exercise with military forces comprising 144
troops and a Hercules C-130 transport plane, which will carry staff and
The exercise was planned by US Adm. Joseph Lopez, commander of allied
forces in southern Europe.
Tsohatzopoulos will participate tomorrow in "Philellinia 97" in Peta, Arta.
The event is dedicated to the symbolic recreation of the Philhellenes
Greece arrests German wanted by Interpol for fraud
A German man wanted by Interpol in his country for fraud and embezzlement
involving millions of marks has been arrested by police in Polygyros,
George Ralf Planck (phonetic spelling), 50, was staying in a rented
apartment in Vourvouro, Chalkidiki.
During his stay in Greece, Planck is alleged to have used a false Belgian
passport and driving licence in the name of Johann Peters.
Police stopped him yesterday on the Nea Moudania-Sithonia highway and after
checking his fingerprints, ascertained that he was Planck.
The German was due to appear before a public prosecutor in Polygyros later
today charged with using forged documents. Extradition procedures have
June inflation creeps up
Greek consumer price inflation rose in June for the first time this year,
creeping up to 5.5% year-on-year from 5.4% in May, the National Statistics
Service (NSS) said.
June's rise in the cost-of-living index was due to increases of 0.6% in
foodstuffs, 1.6% in apparel and footwear, 0.4% in housing (mainly rents),
and 0.3% in transport (mainly a rise in passenger ship fares).
Vigilance maintained on border with Albania
The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) today
unanimously decided the continuation of a state of readiness of the
country's military and police on the border with Albania in order to deter
and combat criminal activity.
KYSEA, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, said increased security
measures should continue in particular in the sea region between Corfu and
the Albanian coast.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the security measures were being
implemented in accordance with provisions as laid down in international
treaties and international law.
German, Greek defence ministers meet on NATO
Visiting German Defence Minister Volker Ruehe and his Greek counterpart
Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday discussed the new structure and enlargement
of NATO ahead of the forthcoming NATO conference in Madrid.
The two ministers agreed that there was rapprochement of views, while Ruehe
reiterated Germany's endorsement of the establishment of four NATO sub-
headquarters in Europe, one of which would be in Greece.
They also discussed initiatives that needed to be taken in the context of
the Western European Union (WEU), as Germany is set to take over the
rotating WEU presidency from France for the second half of the year,
followed by Greece in the first half of 1998.
"There was a series of positive proposals, and we shall continue our
collaboration in that direction because we believe that security matters do
not concern only NATO and are of priority in many regions of Europe, such
as Bosnia, Albania and elsewhere," Tsohatzopoulos said at the Ioannina
'Xenia' hotel shortly midnight when they completed their trek.
On bilateral issues, the talks focussed mainly on armaments, collaborations
and a series of political initiatives.
"We reached very positive conclusions," Tsohatzopoulos said, while Ruehe
added: "Our relations have become closer, it was an outstanding day for
The ministers further discussed the Cyprus issue.
"Negotiations are underway and so are all the initiatives that have been
taken, so that the dialogue over the next two months between Cyprus
President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cyriot leader Rauf Denktash will
flrmulate more auspicious conditions for success," Tsohatzopoulos
He said he told Ruehe that Greece "endorses the prospect of Cyprus'
membership in the European Union. We hope that those negotiations will
commence, as decided, in the most efficient manner. For us, the prospect of
a Cyprus slolution is found in the procedures for Cyprus' accession to the
On withdrawal of the eight-nation protection force in Albania, Tsohatzopoulos
said the force had completed its mission, which was to assist the
distribution of humanistic aid and support the election process.
"Consequently, withdrawal of the multinational force is a matter of time
and, in the next few days, the final decision shall be taken in cooperation
with the new Albanian government".
Ruehe returned to Bonn this morning.
No British beef in Greece
Agriculture Undersecretary Vassilis Geranidis told a press conference in
Thessaloniki yesterday that not one gram of British beef had been imported
to Greece from the quantity which was illegally exported in defiance of a
European Union ban.
The European Commission said yesterday that 1,600 tonnes of British beef
had been illegally exported to the Netherlands, Russia and Egypt. The EU
banned the export of British beef last year after London acknowledged that
consumers eating infected beef could contract the human equivalent of mad
Geranidis said checks were being carried out at all the country's entry
points, adding that on the ministry's instructions, the checks would
If quantities of British beef are discovered, Geranidis said, they will be
seized on the spot.
Greece to cooperate with Kazakh oil, gas industry
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said on Thursday that Greece was
seeking closer economic cooperation with resource-rich Kazakhstan,
especially with its oil and gas industries.
"We are interested in productive cooperation which will be mutually
profitable," Mr. Pangalos told reporters after meeting Kazakh President
Nursultan Nazarbayev at the end of a two-day official visit to the Central
Kazakhstan - a country five times the size of France and with a population
of just 16.7 million people - is attractive because of its huge oil and gas
reserves, the minister said. "Greece is buying important volumes of gas
from Kazakhstan, and we shall also buy oil. We are planning a big pipeline
from Novorossiisk to (the Black Sea port of) Burgas in Bulgaria and then to
the Mediterranean," he said.
Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk is the destination of an oil
pipeline due to be built by the Caspian Pipeline Consortium from Kazakhstan's
huge Tengiz oil field, in line with an agreement signed in May this
US awaiting decision on Aegean, State Dept. says
The United States has said it cannot promote any initiative in the Aegean
until Greece and Turkey reached an agreement to reduce tension in the
US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said on Thursday: "We believe
that any measures to reduce tension that can be agreed and applied in the
Aegean must be implemented by both sides."
Burns added that confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean were
still being discussed under the aegis of NATO, while there was no
concluding agreement yet.
"We must await the completion of these talks," he said, adding that "Greece
must be given time to evaluate Turkey's public statements".
He was referring to Ankara's unilateral decision announced earlier this
week to limit its military activity in the Aegean between July 1 and Aug.
Athens responded with reservation to the announcement, insisting for a
three-month moratorium on military overflights in the Aegean.
Charter arrivals up, but problems remain hoteliers say
Tourist arrivals by charter flights are on the rise, the Panhellenic
Federation of Hoteliers said.
Using figures from arrivals at airports throughout Greece in June, the
federation warned that the increase did not preclude a drop in prices
offered by tour operators.
The largest increase was reported at the airport of Irakleio, Crete, where
arrivals rose 20 percent in June, compared to the same month last
At other destinations, tourist arrivals increased in Samos by 7.5 percent
and in Corfu by 1.0 percent but decreased in Mytilini by 0.9 percent.
Despite the increase, however, the hoteliers' federatoin warned that long-
term infrastructure inefficiencies in tourism had led to a drop in prices
and an increase in lower-income tourists.
Greek equities finish higher, propelled by blue chips
Stock prices recovered during the last trading session of the week to
finish up 1.38 percent helped by strong buying interest in blue-chips,
particularly in the industrial sector.
The general index closed at 1,514.18 points - up 0.43 percent on the week -
with all sector indices scoring gains. Trading was moderate with 12.8
billion drachmas changing hands.
Banks rose 1.54 percent, Holding was 1.76 percent up, Insurance increased
1.29 percent, Industrials rose 1.63 percent, Construction was 0.87 percent
up, Investment increased 0.81 per cent, Investment ended 0.40 percent up
and Miscellaneous increased 0.29 percent.
Greece gets new interbank system in September
A new interbank settlement system will be introduced in Greece in September
by DIAS SA Interbank Systems, Bank of Greece deputy governor Panagiotis
The new system, called DIASTRANSFER, will provide speedy and safe capital
transfer services among banks either by crediting bank accounts or by cash
payments to beneficiaries, said Thomopoulos, who is also president of
DIASTRANSFER will simplify interbank transfer procedures, enabling
settlement within the day.
DIAS is expected soon to introduce a new interbank payments system called
DIASDEBIT that will cover, in the first phase, consumer payments to public
The company's electronic clearing system on bank cheques, used by 35 banks
in Greece, handles more than 50 percent of transactions in the country.
Sunny weather will prevail throughout the country today with a rise in
temperatures forecast in the Ionian Sea region and mainland Greece. Winds
will be variable, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with temperatures
between 23-40C. Similar weather is forecast for Thessaloniki with
temperatures from 21-38C.
Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 274.169
Pound sterling 458.641 Cyprus pd 530.581
French franc 46.416 Swiss franc 186.546
German mark 156.443 Italian lira (100) 16.075
Yen (100) 239.796 Canadian dlr. 198.975
Australian dlr. 206.371 Irish Punt 417.731
Belgian franc 7.579 Finnish mark 52.511
Dutch guilder 138.974 Danish kr. 41.071
Swedish kr. 35.248 Norwegian kr. 37.398
Austrian sch. 22.231 Spanish peseta 1.850
Port. Escudo 1.550