Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-16
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 16/01/1998 (ANA)
- British Foreign Secretary: No legal obstacle for Cyprus to join
- KYSEA decides replacement of navy leadership
- US, British ambassadors briefed on escalating Turkish provocations
- Gov't lashes back at Karamanlis over criticism of the economy
- Professor Spraos' report on agriculture
- Seamen strike against coming cabotage abolition
- Costakis collection heading for Thessaloniki
- 100,000 Greeks suffer from schizophrenia
- Treasures of Mt. Athos exhibition reopens
- Legal centre for training of Balkan attorneys in Thessaloniki
- 'Open University' programmes begin in late February
- Gov't warm to idea of President heading Olympics 2004 Committee
- Smoking banned in Parliament's main chamber
- Tsakirides approved as Olympic Airways president
- Finance ministry collects 39 bln Drs in tax fines
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
British Foreign Secretary: No legal obstacle for Cyprus to join
British Foreign Secretary and European Council President Robin Cook
yesterday emphasised Cyprus' excellent prospects of joining the European
"In our view, there is no legal obstacle for Cyprus to become a full
European Union member. On the contrary, we consider Cyprus as being one of
the strongest candidates," Mr. Cook told a Turkish reporter who asked
whether Cyprus' 1960 constitution prohi bited Cyprus from joining an
international organisation in which both Turkey and Greece are not
"It (Cyprus) has the highest standard of living among all the candidates.
Naturally, it would be much better if Cyprus were to join the EU as one
country. For this reason we encourage the Republic of Cyprus to include the
Turkish Cypriots in its negotiating team. Nobody has more to gain from the
accession of Cyprus to the EU than those living in the Turkish Cypriot
sector of the island, because their standard of living is only a quarter of
the corresponding one for the Greek Cypriots and they (the Turki sh
Cypriots) will have huge benefits from economic support by the EU," Mr.
KYSEA decides replacement of navy leadership
Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday chaired a meeting of the Government
Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), where it was unanimously
decided to replace the Hellenic Navy's leadership.
KYSEA chose Vice-Adm. Georgios Ioannidis, fleet commander until now, as the
new navy general staff chief. He succeeds Vice-Adm. Leonidas Paliogiorgos
who was placed in retirement.
Furthermore, KYSEA unanimously decided to maintain Lt.-Gen. Manousos
Paragioudakis at the head of the army and Georgios Antonetis at the head of
the air force for another year.
According to the law on officers' seniority and promotion, the armed
forces' new leadership is announced a month before it assumes its duties to
have time to be briefed on its new activities.
The change of guard at the Hellenic Navy is expected to take place on Feb.
15. The annual promotions and retirements of officers will start on March
US, British ambassadors briefed on escalating Turkish provocations
US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns was summoned to the foreign ministry
yesterday by the head of the Greek-Turkish affairs department, Ilias Klis,
in order to be briefed on intensifying Turkish provocativeness in the
Sources said that Mr. Burns was, among others, briefed on yesterday's
incident near the Imia islets, in which two Turkish fishing boats
approached, accompanied by a Turkish coastguard vessel.
All three trespassers withdrew from the area when a Greek coastguard vessel
headed to the area. The same sources said that both Mr. Burns and the
British ambassador, Sir Michael Llewelyn Smith, were summoned to the
foreign ministry on the instructions of Foreign Minister Theodoros
Gov't lashes back at Karamanlis over criticism of the economy
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas accused main opposition New Democracy
party leader Costas Karamanlis of irresponsibility and lying, after
statements the ND leader made yesterday on the state of the economy and the
government's economic policy.
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday
accused the government of lying when saying that no new taxes would be
imposed, and of a lack of boldness in introducing structural changes and
Referring to the recent profiteering attacks on the drachma, Mr. Karamanlis
said it was due to the lack of confidence in the Greek economy.
Mr. Reppas called on Mr. Karamanlis not to refer to these issues "with such
irresponsibility" and added that the government contrasts the truth of its
works with the lies in the ND leader's words.
He further said that with his statements yesterday, the ND leader exceeded
his own self and accused him of wilfully concealing the truth on such
issues as the achievement of convergence targets, unemployment and the need
for structural incisions.
Mr. Reppas said Greece was very close to achieving convergence criteria, on
the question of unemployment it has far lower rates than most European
Union countries, while all structural incisions which have been made were
carried out by the present PASOK government.
Professor Spraos' report on agriculture
Greek agriculture is deficient in four important respects, namely
competitiveness, cohesion, prospects and institutions, says a report on the
sector prepared by a committee headed by Prof. Ioannis Spraos, and released
Its structural deficiencies are not insurmountable, given economic realism,
social sensitivity and vision.
The authors of the report are strongly critical of the anachronistic views
prevailing with regard to development in the sector, and political
partisanship permeating agricultural organisations.
They caution against repetition of past practices whereby subsidies were
wasted, resulting in no increase in the value added to products, no
reduction in production costs and no improvement in competitiveness.
They stress the need for carving a national agricultural policy with rules
that are compatible with CAP, and with full utilisation of the support
envisaged in the Agenda 2000.
The report calls, among other things, for a re-examination of the role of
agricultural cooperatives, the organisation of a national system of
products of certified quality, the creation of a 'Land Bank' (possibly a
subsidiary of the Agricultural Bank o f Greece - ATE) that would act as
buyer, seller or broker, the setting up of a water management organisation
with appropriate pricing policies that would discourage waste, and emphasis
on measures that promote local development.
Commenting on the report, Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas said it
contained vital recommendations for farming development which would be
evaluated in the context of the ongoing dialogue in the sector.
Seamen strike against coming cabotage abolition
Greek-flag merchant ships remained tied up at ports throughout the country
as crews went on a 24-hour strike demanding non-lifting of coastal shipping
restrictions under European Union-wide transport deregulation.
Under cabotage restrictions, which must be gradually abolished in Greece by
January 1, 2004, only Greek vessels are allowed to carry out coastal
passenger and cargo routes originating in one Greek port and ending in
another Greek port.
The restrictions, by decision of all the EU countries, cease to be in
effect for cruiseships as of 1999 and for coastal shipping as of the year
In the meantime, a delegation of the Hellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) was
due to meet in Brussels with EU Transport Commissioner Neil Kinnock to seek
the extension of cabotage restrictions beyond the slated dates.
PNO Secretary General Yannis Halas told the ANA that the abolition of
cabotage would cause "severe unemployment problems among the Greek seamen,
who are already suffering the consequences of the withdrawal of ocean-going
Greek ships from the Greek regis try (flag)".
Striking seamen in Piraeus were due to march to the merchant marine
ministry for a demonstration, where they would also present a resolution to
Minister Stavros Soumakis.
Costakis collection heading for Thessaloniki
The "Costakis Collection" of Russian avant-garde works of art, collected
over 30 years by Georgios Costakis, a Muscovite of Greek descent, is to be
brought to Greece from Cologne as part of an interim agreement for the
final purchase of the collection,the government announced yesterday.
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the interim agreement had been
signed for the purchase of the "western" part of the collection, the works
being kept in the German city, which will be brought to Thessaloniki and
kept initially at the Lazariston
Monastery until the completion of a modern art museum, which is to house
and display the collection, which will also be taken on tour around the
Mr. Venizelos stressed that the move did not signify that the puchase had
been finalised, but that it was in a sense "a pledge".
The culture minister also took exception to what he called criticism "from
all around" over the decision to bring the works to the district he
In response to press questions, he said: "I won't answer. These questions
are unacceptable, and downgrade a major initiative by the government."
Costakis built up the collection between 1930 and 1960 by exchanging works
by western artists for paintings dating from the period 1910-1930 by then
unknown Russian avant-garde artists.
The collection, which now belongs to the daughter of the famous collector,
Aliki Costaki, includes works by Malevic, founder of the "Supremacist"
school, Tatlin, the founder of "Constructivism", as well as works by Popova,
Rozanova and Mathiushin.
100,000 Greeks suffer from schizophrenia
Some 100,000 Greeks suffer from some form of schizophrenia, experts told a
news conference yesterday. The first symptoms usually appear during puberty,
although the condition usually appears in the patient between the ages of
20 and 25. Nevertheless, 20 p ercent of patients usually suffer only one
episode of the disease during their lifetimes.
While its causes still remain unclear, it appears that heredity is involved,
as well as illnesses suffered by the mother during pregnancy, such as
influenza. The symptoms usually appear under the influence of external
factors such as stress.
Experts said that many cases were still kept concealed by families even
though the condition can be dealt with through the use of medication and
psychological support for the family.
Treasures of Mt. Athos exhibition reopens
The exhibition "Treasures of Mt. Athos", currently being held in Thessaloniki's
Museum of Byzantine Culture, which has been closed for maintenance work, is
to reopen on Tuesday, January 20. The exhibition, which opened last year as
part of celebrations for Thessaloniki's year as Cultural Capital of Europe,
was extended until April by popular demand.
Other cultural activities that have continued into the new year include an
exhibit of traditional Turkish rugs at the old Archaeological Museum, to
run until January 22, the exhibition "Alexander and the East" as well as
other art exhibitions due to con tinue until the end of the month.
Legal centre for training of Balkan attorneys in Thessaloniki
Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Thessaloniki Bar
Association president Georgios Ignatiadis yesterday announced the creation
in the city of a centre for further training of Balkan lawyers in European
It was noted that the centre will operate in the framework of the Union of
Balkan Bar Associations, a basic aim of which was its creation.
Mr. Petsalnikos also said that his ministry supported the efforts for the
creation in Thessaloniki of a regional international centre for commercial
'Open university' programmes begin in late February
Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis yesterday announced the commencement
of "The Open University", modelled on the British system, at the end of
February, with two pilot post-graduate programmes in English for teachers.
The two programmes will have 100 and 200 slots available, respectively,
while students will pay fees of 15,000 drachmas.
Gov't warm to idea of president heading Olympics 2004 committee
The government yesterday responded favourably to the possibility of
President Kostis Stephanopoulos heading the organising committee to be set
up to oversee preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Asked by reporters to comment on the possibility, government spokesman
Dimitris Reppas said it would be "a good development" provided the
president himself consented.
Mr. Reppas added however that it was still too early for any announcement
to be made.
A draft bill on the formation of the Athens Olympic organising committee is
due to be tabled in Parliament this week.
Mr. Reppas said yesterday that the committee would be made up of officials
selected on the basis of their knowledge and ability "and not political or
Smoking banned in Parliament's main chamber
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis has banned smoking in the
legislature's main chamber and during Parliamentary committee meetings,
while he asked deputies to refrain from using mobile phones while the House
or committees are in session.
Tsakiridis approved as Olympic Airways president
Theodoros Tsakiridis was approved as president and managing director of
Olympic Airways late Wednesday night with eight votes from PASOK deputies
to five against by New Democracy and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI),
while one blank ballot from the Coalition of the Left and Progress
(Synaspismos) was cast.
Replying to questions from committee members, Mr. Tsakiridis spoke of the
need for a new restructuring programme for the company, adding that he is
prepared to hold a tough dialogue with trade unionists. Referring to his
priorities, he said they were re location, the labour rule, the new
organisation programme, a new commercial policy and the conclusion of
In another development, the candidacy of George Chrysolouris as managing
director to the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) was ratified
by a majority vote by Parliament's audit committee.
Eight deputies from the ruling PASOK party voted for the candidacy and
three deputies from the main opposition ND party against.
Finance ministry collects 39 bln Drs in tax fines
Greece's finance ministry collected more than 39 billion drachmas in fines
imposed for tax infringements in 1997, it was announced yesterday.
A financial crime squad launched by the finance ministry in April 1997
reported 97,043 checks in all business sectors last year. It revealed 494,
230 tax and customs infringements from 25,375 companies.
The financial crime squad also reported 7,247 cases of tax infringements in
2,221 companies in the services and goods sector. More than 60 percent of
large enterprises were revealed violating the tax law, followed by 43
percent of entertainment firms, 5 0 percent of fuel companies, 43 percent
of hotels and 41 percent of both construction and travel firms.
Partly cloudy weather is forecast throughout Greece today with the
possibility of showers in the west of the country. Local fog in the
morning. Winds will be light. Athens will partly cloudy with temperatures
between 7-16C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-11C.
Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.369
Pound sterling 466.438 Cyprus pd 535.184
French franc 46.731 Swiss franc 192.478
German mark 156.513 Italian lira (100) 15.911
Yen (100) 218.260 Canadian dlr. 198.956
Australian dlr. 186.496 Irish Punt 390.451
Belgian franc 7.586 Finnish mark 51.709
Dutch guilder 138.885 Danish kr. 41.095
Swedish kr. 35.579 Norwegian kr. 37.910
Austrian sch. 22.247 Spanish peseta 1.847
Port. Escudo 1.532