Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-07-30
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 30/07/1997 (ANA)
- Present conjuncture requires implementation of armaments programme
- Premier to chair KYSEA meeting today
- All restrictions on foreign exchange abolished
- Pilot of crashed Mirage found dead
- FYROM lawyers visit Thessaloniki
- Defence minister confers with former US presidential advisor
- Pangalos to head delegation of ministers to Tirana
- Meeting examines European Commission's 'Agenda 2000' proposals
- Armaments programme open to bids by end 1998, minister says
- Record 199 countries to take part in World Athletics Championships
- Kaklamanakis sails off into the Aegean
- Government aims at lowering indirect tax
- Dollar's jump drives up Greek fuel price, no other impact seen
- Major Cypriot companies show interest in making business in Greece
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Present conjuncture requires implementation of armaments programme
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the present conjuncture
requires the implementation of the armaments programme now so as to achieve
both the further strengthening of the armed forces and the upgrading of the
country's special weight in the international environment to enable it to
assume necessary initiatives for security and stability in the region.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos observed that the creation of the General Armaments
Department, which has the responsibility of implementing the armaments
programme, provides general staffs with the possibility of preoccupying
themselves exclusively with their opera tional task.
Mr. Sbokos referred to the targets of the General Armaments Department,
stressing that it will be based on the timely implementation of the
programme, transparency, quality and economy.
He reiterated the decision taken by the National Defence Ministry's
political leadership to have the participation of the local industry in the
armaments programme increased by 15 percent.
Premier to chair KYSEA meeting today
Prime Minister Costas Simitis will chair a meeting of the Government
Council of Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) today, focusing on national
defence policy, the new structure of the armed forces and the country's
According to National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, the basic
characteristic in national defence policy strategy remained the fact that
"danger posed for the country comes from the east", however, the doctrine
will be enlarged with the capacity to respond "to whatever provocation".
On the question of the armed forces' new structure, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos is
promoting the conversion of big formations- divisions into smaller and more
flexible rapid reaction forces.
Regarding the modernisation of 39 F-4 Phantom jets, an issue on which KYSEA
is expected to take a final decision, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas
has stated that the offer by the German DASA company was more beneficial
compared to the American offer, and also in connection with the condition
of delivery of the modernised aircraft by the year 2000.
All restrictions on foreign exchange abolished
All restrictions concerning foreign exchange will be abolished as of August
1 and will be free for all Greeks from now on.
According to two decisions publicised by the Bank of Greece yesterday, as
of Friday all people in Greece will be able to purchase as much exchange as
they like without restrictions, deposit their exchange without having to
explain how it came into their possession, convert their deposits from
drachmas into whatever currency they desire and vice-versa and take as much
foreign exchange as they wish when travelling abroad.
On the basis of these decisions, anybody will be able to open an exchange
account at whatever bank operating in Greece and feed this account with
exchange (banknotes or cheques) coming from either abroad (import) or
inside the country (the product of a transaction or purchase in drachmas),
withdraw from the account amounts of money either in drachmas or exchange,
make payments in Greece through his account for current transactions in
drachmas or exchange with payment orders and transfer capital abroad w ith
payment orders or by issuing a bank cheque.
In the two last cases, namely payments and capital export, certain
formalities are necessary.
Pilot of crashed Mirage found dead
Search teams yesterday found the remains of the pilot whose Hellenic Air
Force Mirage-2000 jet fighter crashed into the sea northeast of the island
The pilot, Lt. Ioakeim Pantelakis, was on an interception training flight
when his aircraft crashed Monday morning for reasons which remain
His funeral will take place today in Halkida.
FYROM lawyers visit Thessaloniki
Lawyers from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are showing
strong interest in participating in the Union of Balkan Lawyers.
Following a visit to Thessaloniki by a delegation of their union, lawyers
from FYROM have addressed a letter to the Thessaloniki Bar Association
inviting a delegation to visit FYROM in early September for talks on
Defence minister confers with former US presidential advisor
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos met yesterday with visiting
former U.S. presidential advisor George Stephanopoulos, whom he briefed on
developments in the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus, which he
recently visited. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also pointed out the importance of
being able to take part in initiatives on peace and stability in the wider
geopolitical region, while the two men further exchanged "useful views" on
the Cyprus issue and the Aegean.
Mr. Stephanopoulos praised the role Greece could play in the wider region
of southern Europe, the Balkans and the Caucasus, where there were regional
Questioned on the Cyprus issue, Mr. Stephanopoulos recalled U.S. President
Bill Clinton's interest, which he said was indicated by the mediation of
Richard Holbrooke who, he added, would do everything possible to advance
the search for a solution, as th e U.S. believed the time was appropriate
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said Cyprus was going through a critical period in view
of its prospective EU accession, adding that the Holbrooke mediation
indicated the severity of the problem, which had serious prospects for a
solution. He also described the U.S. government's initiative for a solution
of the problem as being of "immense importance", adding that "on all the
other issues, let us await the protagonists".
Pangalos to head delegation of ministers to Tirana
A delegation of ministers headed by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos
will visit Tirana next Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas
announced yesterday. The delegation includes Public Order Minister George
Meeting examines European Commission's 'Agenda 2000' proposals
The Coordinating Inter-Ministerial body convened at the Zappeion Mansion
yesterday to examine the Agenda 2000 (proposals by the European Commission
on the future development and enlargement of the European Union).
Speaking to reporters shortly before the meeting got underway, Alternate
Foreign Minister George Papandreou said negotiations will be tough and the
future of the EU and Greece will depend on them.
Mr. Papandreou also referred to the Greek position in favour of a
simultaneous start to accession negotiations for the 11 candidate
National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas said that the utilisation
of EU funds will depend on the country's effort, adding that Greece remains
in the Cohesion Fund and in Target 1 for the Structural Funds.
EU funds amounting to 275 billion Ecu are anticipated until the year 2006
(on the basis of proposals made by the Commission) in the framework of the
Agenda 2000, compared to 200 billion Ecu over the 1993-1999 period.
Negotiations on the Agenda 2000 will dominate the coming period, heightening
with the summit conference in Luxembourg in December, since the cost of the
EU's new enlargement will now be scrutinised, as well as the new fiscal
prospects until the year 2006.
Armaments programme open to bids by end 1998, minister says
Greece's new armaments programme will be opened to bids by the end of 1998,
after all preliminary procedures have been completed, National Defence
Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said last night.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos made the statements after he briefed the Parliament's
Foreign Affairs and National Defence Committee on changes being considered
in defence structure and progress on the armaments programme.
Referring to the S-300 missiles to be deployed on Cyprus, under a joint
military agreement with the republic, he said they would be set up 20
months after January 1, 1997. By the end of the year, the Paphos airport
would also be operational, Mr. Tsohatz opoulos said.
The minister also said that all conscripts doing their compulsory military
duty will be required to fulfil a nine-month posting at border areas. At
present, border duty is set at a minimum of six months.
He said the duty would be implemented to iron out unequal treatment in the
armed forces and would affect all services.
Record 199 countries to take part in World Athletics Championships
A participation record has been broken in the 6th World Athletics (IAAF)
Championships, starting in Athens' Olympic Stadium this Friday, as the
participating countries have risen to 199.
In the Atlanta Olympics the countries which took part in the track and
field races had numbered 197, while in the previous World Athletics
Championships (5th), in Gotteburg, there were 191 participating countries.
The International Amateur Athletics Association (IAAF) celebrated its 85th
anniversary with a grand opening of its congress at the Herod Atticus
theatre last night.
IAAF president Primo Nebiolo, in Athens to attend the games opening on
Friday, presented prizes to veteran Olympic winners attending the event
like Alberto Juantorena from Cuba, Yolanda Balanc from Romania and Valery
Borzov, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee.
Kaklamanakis sails off into the Aegean
Olympic windsurfing gold medallist Nikos Kaklamanakis will be escorted by
the frigate "Spetsae" as he sails off from Sounion to Crete on his
windsurfing board this morning.
Mr. Kaklamanakis is promoting sea tourism and Athens' bid for the 2004
Olympic Games by sailing to Crete with an intermediate stop at Santorini.
He will set off at 11:30 today for the 120 nautical mile trip to Santorini,
where he will spend the night before setting off tomorrow on the remaining
80-mile leg to Karteros beach, near Iraklion.
Government aims at lowering indirect tax
The government is considering reducing the prices of heating fuel, as well
as road toll fees and tickets for public spectacles, such as theatre,
cinema, sports etc.
The move, decided during yesterday's meeting of economic officials at the
Finance Ministry, is aimed at lowering indirect tax, which will in turn
contribute to lowering the inflation rate.
The government is preparing a series of measures, to be taken now and until
October, aimed at retaining prices mainly in fuel and food. Some of them
will relate to collecting tax revenue.
Yesterday's meeting was sparked by the sky rocketing price of the dollar.
It was decided that relevant authorities be on the alert and monitor
developments relating to the American dollarYs exchange rate.
Dollar's jump drives up Greek fuel price, no other impact seen
The government said yesterday the US dollar's steep rise against the
drachma had driven up fuel prices but so far left the rest of the economy
Monetary and government authorities were keeping close track of the
dollar's ascent and any impact it might have on the market, government
spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters.
The dollar lost 0.44 percent against the drachma on Tuesday in a technical
correction to a weeklong meteoric rise on the domestic market, reflecting
the US currency's jump on world markets.
The greenback finished at 287.14 drachmas from 288.40 at the central bank's
daily fix, reversing five straight rising sessions and as many new all-time
highs against the national currency.
On Monday the US currency had gained 2.27 percent on the drachma in a week,
and 16.5 percent from the beginning of 1997.
Commercial banks will sell the dollar at 291.447 drachmas on Wednesday.
Major Cypriot companies show interest in making business in Greece
Major Cypriot finance companies, including state enterprises, are now
paying attention to making business in Greece, with Balkan states being
their second option. This is seen in latest activities by major Cypriot
companies wishing to exp and in Greece as prospects here are better.
Some state enterprises have already begun the required procedures to
register shares with the Athens Stock Exchange, which lately has been doing
very well. It is interesting that a number of foreign financial organisations
do not hesitate to describe the Greek stock market as the most interesting
emerging market in Europe.
Last week, two big companies belonging to the Nikos Siakolas Group of
Companies, CTC and Woolworth officially announced their decision to
register shares in the Greek Stock Exchange. Reports said more firms from
the same group are seriously considering to follow suit.
The Bank of Cyprus, already successfully operating in Greece, is also
moving towards the same direction with new moves expected to take place in
autumn. On the other hand, the Popular Bank of Cyprus recently announced
its expansion to the Balkans and is considering to enter the Greek stock
Sporadic showers over mainland regions are expected in the afternoon today.
The rest of the country will have light cloud, with possibility of
termporary rain over the Ionian Sea. Winds will be northerly, mostly
moderate, but becoming very strong locally in the Aegean in the afternoon.
Athens will be cloudy with possible local rainfall in the north and
temperatures of 22-33 C. The same for Thessaloniki, with temperatures 20-31
Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.843
Pound sterling 464.911 Cyprus pd 529.391
French franc 46.017 Swiss franc 187.855
German mark 155.198 Italian lira (100) 15.926
Yen (100) 242.236 Canadian dlr. 205.701
Australian dlr. 210.264 Irish Punt 415.112
Belgian franc 7.517 Finnish mark 52.453
Dutch guilder 137.724 Danish kr. 40.765
Swedish kr. 35.914 Norwegian kr. 37.492
Austrian sch. 22.055 Spanish peseta 1.840
Port. Escudo 1.537