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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 16/12/1997 (ANA)


  • Athens calls on Ankara to change its approach vis-a-vis EU
  • Simitis to brief Karamanlis today on EU summit results
  • German Social Democrat official in Ankara, Athens
  • Tsohatzopoulos: Military clash between Greece, Turkey unlikely
  • Support for Albanian Navy's restructuring
  • OECD report cites strengths, weaknesses of Greek economy
  • High-ranking gov't presentation on utility agreements
  • OTE subsidiary Maritel Maritime to increase share capital
  • Better advertising of Greek tourism abroad urged
  • Greek stocks end flat in lacklustre trade
  • Egnatia highway to be ready by 2000
  • Germany's Lahmeyer wins tender to do power plant study
  • EU takes Greece, five other states to court on environment laws
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Athens calls on Ankara to change its approach vis-a-vis EU

Athens reiterated its call to Ankara yesterday to change its approach, saying Turkish reactions to the European Union's summit decision on Saturday not to invite Ankara to accession talks next spring were leading the nation to a "dead end".

"By making threats, Turkey is leading itself up a dead end and is losing a great deal. Ankara should change its approach," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

Turkey failed to be named as candidate for membership due to its poor human rights record, its treatment of its Kurdish minority, relations with Greece and its stance on the Cyprus issue, apart from purely economic reasons.

Simitis to brief Karamanlis today on EU summit results

Main opposition leader New Democracy president Costas Karamanlis will meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis today for a briefing on the latest developments in national issues and the outcome of the weekend's EU summit in Luxembourg.

ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos yesterday harshly criticised Turkey for its response to the EU summit, saying Ankara had shown its "anti-European orientation" and that "threats and blackmail only serves to isolate it further from the European family".

He said that Ankara had chosen to intensify tension, intransigence and provocativeness.

ND sources said that the government was premature in rejoicing over the outcome of the EU summit, which, they said, was due to mistaken handling by Turkey and economic reasons.

German Social Democrat official in Ankara, Athens

The president of the German Social Democrats' Parliamentary group and the party's head on foreign policy issues, Rudolf Scharping, will meet Turkish President Suleyman Demirel in Ankara today and Prime Minister Costas Simitis in Athens on Thursday.

According to the party's Parliamentary group spokesman, the social democrat politician's talks will focus on relations between the European Union and Turkey, the Cyprus issue combined with Greek-Turkish relations and the state of human rights in Turkey.

Despite the fact that Mr. Scharping's tour is taking place at an extremely crucial time, immediately after the European Union's Luxembourg summit and new tension in relations between the EU and Turkey, he denied that it constitutes "mediation" or a "fen ce-mending mission".

Mr. Scharping's visits to Ankara and Athens had been scheduled long ago, the spokesman said. This clarification is supported by the fact that the Parliamentary group president will be accompanied by four other deputies, including Leila Onur, who is of Kurdish origin.

Tsohatzopoulos: Military clash between Greece, Turkey unlikely

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that he was convinced that Turkey would not carry out its threat to annex occupied Cyprus and ruled out military confrontation between Greece and Turkey, saying it was an "ineffective" way to re solve problems.

"Turkey does not have the strength to go against the European Union, the international community and international law," he said while addressing a high school gathering near Thessaloniki.

He said the recent increase in violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighters would be resolved within the framework of the new NATO structure agreed upon in Brussels last week.

The Greek defence minister also said the new NATO would act as a "safety valve" since no aircraft belonging to any member-state would be able to enter Greece's national security area.

In ruling out a potential conflict with Turkey Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said:

"If we avoid provocative actions, showing that we are in control of whatever situation arises, conflict is not the most effective way (to resolve issues) and no reasonable person would ever suggest it." He added, however, that a clash would be unavoidable if Turkey tried to overturn Greece's sovereign rights in the region and violate its national space.

The minister stressed that the Greek armed forces were always in a state of readiness.

Greece's "strategic arsenal", he added, included its right under the Law of the Sea to expand its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, although he said that the use of that right would depend on developments in Turkey's relations with the European Union.

The use of this "weapon", he said, would depend on whether Turkey had a chance of joining the EU, which Greece did not object to as long as it fulfilled the conditions laid down.

Support for Albanian Navy's restructuring

The Hellenic Navy will aid in the effort to restructure the Albanian Navy, with three Albanian torpedo boats and two patrol boats being launched.

Additionally, the crew of the vessel "Karavoyiannos" is continuing to repair and service lighthouses in the neighbouring country.

Lastly, four Alouette-type helicopters belonging to the Albanian health ministry are being repaired in Greece at the expense of the Hellenic Navy.

OECD report cites strengths, weaknesses of Greek economy

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) publicised its assessments and predictions on the state of the Greek economy, as well as on the economies of its other member-states, in Paris yesterday.

Generally speaking, the OECD's report could be termed "less optimistic" than corresponding European Union reports. However, national economy ministry sources said this is due to the fact that, as the OECD's report concedes, certain measures contained in the 1997 state budget have not been taken into consideration and nor has the content of the 1998 budget.

Referring to the main indicators of the Greek economy, the report points out that inflation in Greece is at the lowest point in the past 25 years, adding that its convergence with the level of inflation required by the EU's Economic and Monetary Union ( EMU) might be slow.

On the question of the fiscal deficit, it concedes that it has decreased considerably, but adds that if measures are not taken in 1998 then it will present incremental trends in the next year, as well as the deficit in the balance of payments.

The report stresses that progress has been achieved concerning a crackdown on tax evasion in Greece, but added that in 1997 public revenues were slightly less than expected and expenditures slightly higher.

Referring to growth rates in the Greek economy, the report considers them to be strong but expresses fears that a slight retardation might take place in 1999.

Lastly, it said that the number of registered unemployed people is increasing, which is primarily due to modernisation and the restructuring of many enterprises.

High-ranking gov't presentation on utility agreements

Operating costs of the major public utilities (DEH, OTE, DEPA, HLPAP, HSAP, etc) will decrease by 30 per cent on average, while domestic production potential will be strengthened and new jobs created in the private sector.

These are some of the direct repercussions from promoting the institution of programming agreements, according to a presentation of the issue yesterday by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou and Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis, and with the participation of Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Iason Stratos and General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos.

The agreements which have already been promoted with Greek industry total 131. They concern investments amounting to 1.3 trillion drachmas.

"The programming agreements constitute a process of awarding procurements which have been systematically used in most European countries to safeguard the interests of public bodies and to strengthen production," Ms Papandreou said.

OTE subsidiary Maritel Maritime to increase share capital

The Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's (OTE) subsidiary, Maritel Maritime Telecommunications Services Piraeus, will increase its share capital by 550 million drachmas with the disposition of 55,000 shares to shipping companies as well as Global One Hellas and Alcatel Telecom Hellas.

The company's share capital will amount to 1.45 billion drachmas after the increase. The highest percentage of participation of private bodies will be 30 per cent (20 per cent for shipowners and 10 per cent for Alcatel and Global One), while the price o f the share will be 10,000 drachmas and the amount of each shipowner's participation will be one to 7.25 million drachmas.

Better advertising of Greek tourism abroad urged

The Federation of Tourist Enterprises of Greece (SETE) yesterday recommended the creation of a marketing firm to better advertise Greek tourism abroad.

SETE, during a meeting with Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, called for the cooperation of the public and private sectors in forming a company modeled after the French "Maison de France".

SETE representatives noted that both the public and private sectors should "put the hand in their pocket" in support of the proposal.

The federation proposed that a percentage of tourist duties, which local governments collect, should go toward an advertising campaign.

Town planning matters regarding tourist accommodations were also discussed.

Greek stocks end flat in lacklustre trade

Greek equities ended mixed to higher in subdued trading on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday reflecting a lack of fresh incentives and market uncertainty ahead of a parliamentary debate on the 1998 budget.

The general index closed 0.40 percent higher at 1,523.32 points, off the day's highs.

Trading was thin with turnover at 10.7 billion drachmas.

Sector indices were mixed. Banks rose 0.51 percent, Insurance eased 0.38 percent, Leasing increased 1.47 percent, Investment fell 0.22 percent, Construction rose 1.25 percent, Industrials edged 0.26 percent higher, Miscellaneous dropped 0.86 percent and Holding fell 0.04 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 1.01 percent while the FTSE/ASE index ended 0.70 percent higher at 872.53 points.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 136 to 80 with another 24 issues unchanged.

Pavlides, Remek, Galis and Babyland scored the biggest percentage gains at the upper 8.0 percent volatility limit, while Eltrak, Mochlos, Bank of Athens and Intertyp suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 26,145 drachmas, Ergobank at 15,295, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,800, Delta Dairy at 3,350, Titan Cement at 13,150, Intracom at 13,900 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6, 085.

Egnatia Highway to be ready by 2000

The Egnatia road, a network linking the eastern and western borders of northern Greece, will be completed by 2000, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis told a news conference yesterday.

Mr. Laliotis said that the project was absorbing European Union funds more rapidly. Funds absorbed in 1997 were 45 billion drachmas compared to 42 billion drachmas in 1994-1996.

He said 427 km of Egnatia were currently under construction out of the project's total 687 km.

Greece has secured 460 billion drachmas in EU funds to finance 424 km.

Construction of the remaining sections would need a combination of co- funding from state and private funds, Mr. Laliotis said.

Egnatia is the backbone for transportation in northern Greece, the Balkans and southeastern Europe, he said.

Its main road axis will be complemented with nine vertical roads, five ports and eight airports linking Greece, other Balkan states and central and east European countries.

Mr. Laliotis underlined that seven percent of the project's budget was earmarked for environmental and archaeological protection works.

Germany's Lahmeyer wins tender to do power plant study

Germany's Lahmeyer International GmbH won an international tender to carry out a study on the feasibility of a contract awarded to a Russian consortium for construction of a power plant in Florina, northern Greece, it was announced yesterday.

The government ordered the study after complaints from political parties, including its own, that the price agreed for the project was exorbitant.

National Investment Bank for Industrial Development handled the tender, which drew bids from 23 firms, shortlisted to four.

Construction of the 330 MW lignite-powered electricity plant, agreed by the Greek and Russian governments several years ago, was to be carried out under a turnkey arrangement.

The project has been frozen until the study and recommendations by Lahmeyer International has been completed in around two months.

EU takes Greece, five other states to court on environment laws

The European Union's Commission has opened proceedings against Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece for their failure to comply with previous judgements of the European Court of Justice concerning legislation on waste, battery waste, natural habitats, wild birds,genetically modified organisms and waste water.

The Commission has decided to send letters of formal notice to all the above member states except Italy, to whom a reasoned opinion will be sent.

In the case of Greece, the Commission decided to issue a letter of formal notice concerning a judgement on 26 June 1997 for Greece's failure to adopt and communicate to the Commission legislation to empower a directive on the conservation of natural hab itats and wild flora and fauna.


Light rain is forecast in most parts of Greece today with light snowfall in the mountainous regions of central and northern Greece. Winds will be variable, strong to gale force. Athens will be cloudy with light rain and possible snow on Mt. Parnes. Temperatures will range from 4-9C. Clouds and sleet in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 0-5C.


Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 277.720 Pound sterling 454.653 Cyprus pd 532.704 French franc 46.674 Swiss franc 193.336 German mark 156.319 Italian lira (100) 15.950 Yen (100) 211.445 Canadian dlr. 195.801 Australian dlr. 182.330 Irish Punt 404.538 Belgian franc 7.576 Finnish mark 51.784 Dutch guilder 138.711 Danish kr. 41.031 Swedish kr. 35.688 Norwegian kr. 38.093 Austrian sch. 22.211 Spanish peseta 1.848 Port. Escudo 1.530


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