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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-09-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 07/09/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece to keep tight economic policy in 1999 for EMU entry
  • Greece speeds towards EMU, PM tells press conference
  • Burns tells US investors Greece is a good bet
  • Reppas inaugurates digital radio station
  • Thessaloniki Festival to be set-up
  • All is calm in the Aegean Sea, PM says
  • Jospin terms Cyprus division "deplorable"
  • Russian works of art in Thessaloniki
  • Greece-FYROM relations on good track, undersecretary says
  • Greece draws 2-2 with Slovenia
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece to keep tight economic policy in 1999 for EMU entry

Greece, holding its ground in the throes of global market turmoil, will see another year of tight economic policy aimed at steering the country into European economic and monetary union on target by 2001, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Saturday.

"The coming year - 1999 - is a landmark in our effort. Despite mounting difficulties on an international level, Greece must attain the goal it has set, which is meeting the entry conditions for EMU," Mr. Simitis said in his annual economic policy statement.

By the end of this year, the country should meet four of five conditions set for EMU entry by member-countries of the European Union, he told an audience at Thessaloniki's international trade fair.

Likely to be attained were reduction of the fiscal deficit to below 3.0 percent of gross domestic product; a decline in the public debt as a percentage of GDP; the stabilisation of foreign exchange parities; and convergence of long-term interest rates. The government aims to reduce inflation to around 4.5 percent by the end of this year, the lowest in 25 years.

Next year's monetary and incomes policy aims to stabilise prices and therefore inflation, currently the toughest target to meet, he said.

Private and public investment this year had risen by 10.7 percent and the growth rate in 1997-1998 was the highest in the last 25 years.

The government had succeeded in improving infrastructure, and companies had stepped up investments to the Balkans, aided by a stronger economy, higher profitability and state incentives, Mr. Simitis said.

The government will keep to its wide-ranging privatisation programme, aimed at shrinking the public sector and boosting competitiveness in the banking system.

In addition, the government had begun to tackle high unemployment in a 1998- 2000 programme, involving subsidies to employers for hiring the jobless, and subsidised training schemes, altogether totalling 400 billion drachmas.

Greece speeds towards EMU, PM tells press conference

Greece will have met four of the five Maastricht convergence criteria by the end of the year to enable Greece to take its place in European Economic and Monetary Union, Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed yesterday.

Speaking at a news conference at the 63rd Thessaloniki International Fair, Mr. Simitis siad Greece was among the countries which would adopt the European single currency, the euro.

"The only remaining issue will be inflation," he said.

Following the drachma's entry to the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in March, Mr. Simitis said, the Greek economy stabilised further. The recent turmoil on international markets has had a negligible effect on the course of the Greek economy,which has shown itself to be resilient, he said.

He said that the economic policy of the government could not be changed, adding that the present fiscal policy can not allow for changes, and noted that the international conditions are fluid.

The prime minister said that structural changes in the Greek economy were proceeding satisfactorily, adding that the government would continue with the privatisation of the Ionian Bank and the Duty Free Shops.

The prime minister ruled out a cabinet reshuffle adding that he was very satisfied with his ministers' performances.

Burns tells US investors Greece is a good bet

Speaking during a visit to the 63rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) yesterday, US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns called on American investors to invest in Greece without fear.

Mr. Burns, who was speaking while visiting the pavilion of the American Hyatt Regency company which is exploiting the casino in Thessaloniki, said he was particularly impressed by the TIF which he was visiting for the first time and referred to Greece's vital economy which is forging ahead. He also said that having Greece as an active and dynamic partner was great support for Balkan countries.

"My advice to American companies is to come to Greece and see a country which is changing and an economy which is being modernised. One of the reasons that President Clinton sent me here is to ensure that the US and Greece will strengthen their relations and there is no better way for this than by developing their economic relations. I believe this and I advise American investors to invest in Greece which is a stable country with a good economy, contrary to some Balkan states where we have conflicts. Th ere is stability in Greece," Mr. Burns said.

Reppas inaugurates digital radio station

Press and Information Minister Dimitris Reppas inaugurated the first digital radio station in Greece, as well as in the Balkans, in Thessaloniki at noon on Saturday. The new station is the ERT 3, while its new building installations were also inaugurated in Angelaki street.

Speaking during the inauguration, Mr. Reppas referred to "justified pride" over the functioning of the first digital radio station in Thessaloniki. He said that the investment for digital radio was in the region of 700 million drachmas.

Thessaloniki Festival to be set-up

A founding document was signed in Thessaloniki on Saturday by which the "Thessaloniki Festival" will be created. It is a new cultural "umbrella" body for the management, organisation and programming of cultural events in the city by almost all its cultura l bodies (the State Theatre of Northern Greece, the State Conservatory, the State Museum for Modern Art, the Cinema Festival, etc).

The creation of this non-profit company under the name of "Thessaloniki Festival" had been announced by the relevant minister in Thessaloniki last March.

All is calm in the Aegean Sea, PM says

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday he did not believe the Aegean Sea to be a region in which developments could spiral out of control.

"I do not believe that the Aegean, despite the expansionist Turkish policy and the tension which it creates, is a region in which conditions are not under control and that there will be problems," he said addressing a press conference in Thessaloniki yesterday.

He was responding to a question whether he shared US President Bill Clinton's recently expressed view that the Aegean was among world "flash points".

Mr. Simitis said Greece had proposed a step-by-step rapprochement with its NATO ally Turkey and was cooperating within the framework of the European Union.

Mr. Simitis also said that he will meet with his Turkish counterpart Mesut Yilmaz at the side-lines of the Balkan countries' conference in Antalya, Turkey, next month.

Speaking on the Russian made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles ordered by the the Cyprus government and due to be deployed on the island republic later this year, Mr. Simitis said that their deployment is not a purpose in itself adding that "the discussion on this subject, 'the missile talk', turns our attention to a direction we do not accept."

He said that the "central issue of the Cyprus problem is the invasion and occupation of the northern part of the island republic by Turkish troops, and the non-compliance of Turkey and the leadership of the Turkish-Cypriots with the decisions of the Uni ted Nations and this is the issue we must constantly have our attention geared to."

He added that procedures for Cyprus's entry to the 15-nation European Union would create the conditions for a resolution of the central problem facing the island.

Jospin terms Cyprus division 'deplorable'

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin denounced the division of Cyprus saying it was a "deplorable situation for international law" in an interview with the Sunday 'To Vima' published yesterday.

"The real question" in Cyprus is the "division of the island...which persists since nearly 25 years," Mr. Jospin said.

"What France wishes, is to achieve putting an end to a deplorable situation for international law," he said.

"Those who today block the process of rapprochement of the two communities and are opposed to any political settlement based on United Nations resolutions, bare towards their people and to history a grave responsibility, " Mr. Jospin added.

Mr. Jospin was on a one-day visit to Athens last Monday where he addressed, together with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, a conference on the prospects of socialism in Europe.

Russian works of art in Thessaloniki

The famed "Costakis Collection" of Russian avant-garde works of art will be in Thessaloniki for public viewing by the end of September, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos announced on Saturday.

The Cologne-based works of art, collected over thirty years by George Costakis, a Muscovite of Greek descent, kept initially at the Lazarist Monastery until the completion of the city's new Modern Art Museum which is to house the collection.

Mr. Venizelos announced an interim agreement to purchase the works comprising some half of the collection in January. He said the interim agreement had been signed for the purchase of the "Western" part of the collection. A substantial part of the Costa kis Collection is also in the possession of the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow.

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 grand-daughter of the famous collector, Aliki Costaki, includes works by Malevic, founder of the "Supremacist" school, Tatlin, the founder of "Constructivism", Popova, Rozanova and Mathiushin.

Greece-FYROM relations on good track, undersecretary says

The Foreign Undersecretary of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Risto Blazewski, in an interview with the Athens News Agency (ANA) on Saturday afternoon, expressed concern over tension in Kosovo and the hope that Athens will help FYROM join the European Union at some time in the future.

Mr. Blazewski, arrived in Lisbon accompanying FYROM President Kiro Gligorov on the occasion of September 5 which EXPO '98 dedicated to his country.

He also spoke with warm words of friendship of Greece to which, as he said, FYROM looks forward to in order to approach Europe. On the question of his country's name, he said that it will be resolved soon, but avoided any comment on how this will be ach ieved.

"Greece may have created some problems for us in the past, but all this has now passed. We look upon Greece as a friendly country now which is investing in 'Macedonia' and is our good partner in the region. It is a modern country which helps 'Macedonia. ' Cooperation between us is explicit and I am certain that both sides will take advantage of the opportunities which have been created so far," he said.

"Greece is contributing towards the rapprochement of 'Macedonia' with Europe and, being a member of the EU, is trying to help us. We undoubtedly also look forward to its help for our future accession to the EU," he added.

On the question of his country's name, Mr. Blazewski said that "this will be settled. Greece has understood that it is necessary for time to be provided for our differences to be resolved with the best possible way for both. Everything will be settled."

"As is the case with the rest of Europe, the United States or Greece, we see no prospect for an independent Kosovo. Kosovo constitutes a part of Yugoslavia, which must find a solution quickly so that in a logical period of two or three years the status of autonomy will have been discussed, always within the Yugoslav state," he said.

Greece draws 2-2 with Slovenia

Greece drew 2-2 with Slovenia in a group-two opening qualifying match in the European soccer championship in Athens yesterday.

Zladko Zahovic scored twice for Slovenia while Greece scored with Nikos Machlas from the penalty spot in the 55th minute and with Costas Frantzeskos three minutes later.

Slovenia dominated the midfield and opened the scoring in the 19th minute. Machlas's equaliser was his 12th goal for the Greek national team.

WEATHER

Scattered cloud in western, central and northern Greece and possible rainfall in the north today. Fair weather in the rest of the country. Athens partly cloudy with temperatures between 20-30C. Thessaloniki cloudy with possible rainfall in the afternoon and temperatures between 18- 27C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 298.493 British pound 498.678 Japanese yen (100) 220.274 French franc 51.171 German mark 171.542 Italian lira (100) 17.373 Irish Punt 430.528 Belgian franc 8.317 Finnish mark 56.385 Dutch guilder 152.024 Danish kr. 45.039 Austrian sch. 24.373 Spanish peseta 2.021 Swedish kr. 37.400 Norwegian kr. 38.559 Swiss franc 208.241 Port. Escudo 1.674 Aus. dollar 176.209 Can. dollar 194.234 Cyprus pound 579.328

(C.E.)


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