Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-15
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 15/07/1997 (ANA)
- Greece to respond soon to Yilmaz letter to Santer
- Simitis chairs meeting on Greece's convergence programme
- Security Council urges Cypriot sides to continue peace process
- Acceleration of EU-funded projects discussed
- First F-16 refurbished in Greece
- Greek-Egyptian law enforcement accord
- IOC members endorse Athens' 2004 Olympic Games candidacy
- Greek retail sales volume up 2.5 pct in April
- Dollar posts record high against drachma
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece to respond soon to Yilmaz letter to Santer
The Greek government will reply "soon" to the letter sent by Turkish
Premier Mesut Yilmaz to European Commission President Jacques Santer, who
conveyed it to the leaders of the 15 EU member-states, government spokesman
Dimitris Reppas said today.
Athens' reply will be within the framework of the country's "fixed
positions", Reppas said, adding that Greece had no objection to the request
put forward by Yilmaz regarding Turkey's accession to the EU, provided
Ankara fulfils the four conditions set.
The conditions referred to by Reppas are that Ankara should respect human
rights and the operation of parliamentary institutions, that the Kurdish
problem should be resolved through political procedures, that Turkey should
contribute to finding a settlement of the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish
problems should be handled by Ankara on the basis of the principles of good
neighbourliness and respect for international treaties and international
Simitis chairs meeting on Greece's convergence programme
Prime Minister Costas Simitis today chaired a meeting on international
developments in the European Union, particularly in Germany and France, in
relation to economic and monetary union, and Greece's progress with regard
The meeting was attended by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos
Papantoniou and the Governor of the Bank of Greece Lucas Papademos.
"Our assessment is that developments are not upsetting our own economic
planning. We remain firm and dedicated to the programme which we have been
implementing," Papantoniou told reporters after the meeting.
Asked if the government intended to impose any new economic measures this
year, Papantoniou was categorical:
"There will be absolutely no measures during the present year. The budget
is going according to plan, inflation has a clear downward tendency and in
general, the economy is keeping to the targets set by the government,'' he
As every year, Papantoniou added, discussion about the economic policy to
be followed next year would begin in essence in the Autumn, when the state
budget for 1998 will be drawn up.
Within this framework, he said, a preliminary meeting will be held tomorrow
at the ministry for a first exchange of views.
Asked meanwhile, whether there was concern at the Bank of Greece about the
sharp rise of the dollar against the drachma, central bank governor Lucas
Papademos said there would be no repercussions on Greece's exchange
"These fluctuations reflect various factors which affect the dollar's
parity on international markets,'' Papademos said.
Replying to other questions, Papademos said the foreign exchange market
would be fully liberalised for Greeks during the course of July.
Security Council urges Cypriot sides to continue peace process
The UN Security Council (SC) has called on the Greek and Turkish Cypriot
sides to continue with negotiations until the protracted Cyprus problem is
solved and has reiterated its support to these efforts.
In a statement to the press yesterday, SC president Peter Osvald of Sweden
welcomed the completion of the first round of UN-led direct negotiations
and asked the two sides to be constructive.
Diego Cordovez, the UN Secretary General's special advisor on the Cyprus
problem who led the talks, briefed earlier yesterday the SC members on the
outcome of the first round of the four-day negotiations between President
Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cy priot leader Rauf Denktash, held at
Troutbeck, near New York, between July 9 and 12.
In his statement after being briefed by Mr. Cordovez, Mr. Osvald said "the
Council is very pleased to learn that these talks were held in a positive
and constructive atmosphere."
"Security Council members urge the leaders of the two communities to uphold
a sustained process of direct negotiations until the instruments that will
constitute a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue have been
concluded," he added.
The statement also noted the SC members "urge the two parties to respond
constructively to the suggestions made by the secretary general's special
advisor on Cyprus, so that further progress can be made in the next round
It concluded that "Security Council members reaffirm their active, firm and
full support to the efforts of the secretary general for a continued and
sustained process of negotiations."
A second round of negotiations is scheduled to talke place near Geneva,
Switzerland, between August 11 and 16.
Following the conclusion of the first round of talks, Mr. Cordovez told the
press that the leaders of both sides were cordial and expressed good will,
despite the thorny problems that remain unsolved.
Mr. Cordovez said that Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash had frequent private
meetings, meals, and took walks in the forest around Troutbeck. He quoted
as an indication of the friendly atmosphere that for the first time in
three years they agreed on their own initiative to meet in Nicosia before
the next round of talks in Geneva, to discuss human rights issues.
The UN secretary general's envoy expressed the hope that the change in the
system and process of the talks, which was adopted for Troutbeck, would be
continued in future rounds and help towards finding a solution. He
supported this hope by the fact that the two leaders were not asked to give
a final reply on any issue, as in the past.
Instead, Mr. Cordovez said, the two leaders were expected to study the UN
proposals, discuss them with their own people and come to the next round of
talks with specific stances.
In this way, he explained, the outcome of various rounds will be accumulative,
and the talks will not be starting from scratch every time, as in the
Acceleration of EU-funded projects discussed
The faster implementation of projects financed by EU funds and a partial
revision of the second Community Support Framework (1994-99), which covers
the period up to December 1999, were discussed today by Prime Minister
Costas Simitis and Natinal Economy and Finance undersecretaries Christos
Pachtas and Nikos Christdoulakis.
After the meeting Pachtas said the government was determined to proceed
with a partial revision of the Delors-2 package so as to complete as many
projects as possible before the third Community Support Framework (CSF)
(the "Santer" package) went into effect in the year 2000 after the EU's
In that context, projects which had not been included in the second CSF
would be advanced with the transfer of funds from other projects which were
Pachtas said the government was striving for the best possible result by
speeding up the implementation rate of the CSF.
During the meeting, the Premier was also briefed on the course of
materialisation of the Public Investments Programme. According to figures
presented by Pachtas, there was a 98% increase in first-half 1997 in
advancing projects financed by the EU, compared with the corresponding
period in 1996.
The second CSF, funded under the Delors-2 package, is co-financing 18
sectional, 13 regional and the nine major projects throughout Greece.
A total of 725 billion dr. in CSF funds were spent last year, with a 71%
absorption rate for the period 1994-96.
First F-16 refurbished in Greece
The Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB) today delivered to the Greek Air
Force the first F-16 jetfighter to undergo extensive refurbishment in
The fighter plane was turned over to the air force during a special event
at EAB's facilities in Tanagra attended by Finance and National Defence
Undersecretaries George Drys and Dimitris Apostolakis, Chief of the Air
Force General Staff Lt. Gen. George Antonetsis and US Ambassador in Athens
The air force has assigend EAB a programme to upgrade all its F-16s by
1999. The delivery of six more modernised F-16s is scheduled over the next
The work is being carried out by EAB following its acquisition of the
knowhow from Lockheed-Martin Corp., the F-16s American manufacturer.
Greek-Egyptian law enforcement accord
Egypt and Greece will sign a cooperation agreement focusing on security,
providing mainly for the deportation of criminals, a police source said
An Egyptian Foreign Ministry delegation had visited Athens on July 3-6 for
talks regarding the agreement, which is to be signed during the forthcoming
visit of Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos to Cairo.
The date for the minister's visit has yet to be confirmed.
In the meantime, Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis is due to visit
Cairo today for talks to improve Greek-Egyptian cooperation in various
IOC members endorse Athens' 2004 Olympic Games candidacy
Two International Olympic Committee (IOC) members, who ended their visit to
the Greek capital yesterday, made positive comments on Athens' Olympic
Bulgarian IOC delegate Ivan Slavkov said: "I feel especially pleased
whenever I visit Athens, since the days I played water polo. I consider the
Greek candidacy very strong, and I believe that in the event of Athens'
victory, the Bulgarian people will also be very pleased."
Paul Wallwork, of Western Samoa, said: "I see that Athens is changing for
the better, compared to my last visit. The Greek candidacy is thorough,
carefully planned, and based on an authentic technocratic perception".
Four other IOC members, Messrs. Rene Esomba (Cameroon), Jan Stabo (Norway),
Roy Anthony Bridge (Jamaica) and Francis Ngvesko (Uganda) are beginning
their official visit to Athens today.
Meanwhile, replying to press questions, government spokesman Dimitris
Reppas said it was customary for members of the International Olympics
Commitee (IOC) to visit cities seeking to host Olympic Games and that these
visits have the nature of well-intentioned public relations.
Greek retail sales volume up 2.5 pct in April
Greek retail sales volume rose by 2.5 percent in April compared to the
corresponding month last year, the National Statistics Service said.
Retail sales volume was 1.7 percent higher in the first four months of 1997
from the same period in 1996.
Dollar posts record high against drachma
The US dollar shot up to a new record close against the Greek drachma in
the domestic foreign exchange market reflecting the greenback's spectacular
gains in international markets.
The dollar was a record 281.27 drachmas at the central bank's daily fix, up
5.16 drachmas from last Friday. Commercial banks were selling the dollar at
The US currency has shown a 13.63 percent rise since the beginning of the
Sterling also rose sharply to 474.20 drachmas, up 5.52 drachmas from its
The British currency broke new six-year barriers against the DMark last
week in international markets, surpassing the 3.0 mark level.
The German currency has come under pressure due to the uncertainties over
the future of European monetary union and talk of a more lax interpretation
of the Maastricht treaty.
Fair weather is forecast throughout the country initially today, turning
cloudy locally in the afternoon in northern and central regions. Athens
will be fair with moderate northerly winds. The same for Thessaloniki, with
local clouds in the afternoon.
Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 280.426
Pound sterling 472.777 Cyprus pd 530.344
French franc 46.233 Swiss franc 189.943
German mark 156.310 Italian lira (100) 16.104
Yen (100) 245.820 Canadian dlr. 204.704
Australian dlr. 206.548 Irish Punt 422.628
Belgian franc 7.571 Finnish mark 52.823
Dutch guilder 138.842 Danish kr. 41.023
Swedish kr. 35.938 Norwegian kr. 37.527
Austrian sch. 22.218 Spanish peseta 1.855
Port. Escudo 1.548