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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-12

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, 12/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Athens wants in on Eurofighter project
  • Government holds off on fighter plane purchase
  • Five Olympic flights cancelled in walk-out
  • Greece, Russia stress importance of oil pipeline project
  • Hellenic Petroleum workers call strike
  • Rhodes hopes to be Sixth Fleet's R&R spot
  • ASE breaks another record
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Athens wants in on Eurofighter project

The Greek government on Friday gave the green light for negotiations to begin for the purchase of 60-80 fourth generation Eurofighters as a medium- term measure within the framework of an ongoing multi-million dollar armaments programme. The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) gave its approval at a meeting today chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the Eurofighter would enter service with the Hellenic Air Force after 2005 when the warplane is expected to go into mass production. He said the Defence Ministry had been authorised by KYSEA to "inquire" about the financial terms under which Greece could participate in the Eurofighter production programme, on the basis of an medium-term order of between 60 and 80 of the aircraft.

Government holds off on fighter plane purchase

KYSEA also completed discussion of the procurement of new combat aircraft to meet the immediate needs of the Hellenic Air Force, but no final decision was taken due to a shortage of funds under the approved armaments programme. As a result, KYSEA authorised the Defence Ministry to examine the financial aspects of the procurement in conjunction with provision in the current Integrated Medium-Term Defence Equipment Programme (EMPAE) for the purchase of Mirage 2000 and F-16 fighter jets to replace losses. KYSEA also gave its approval for the signing of contracts for the purchase of 50 US-made T-6A training aircraft and eleven French-made Crotale short- and medium-range anti-aircraft systems for the Hellenic Navy and the Hellenic Air Force.

Five Olympic flights cancelled in walk-out

Four Olympic Airways domestic flights and one international flight to Milan were cancelled on Friday as civil aviation employees held a three-hour walk- out to protest the government's plans to give management of Olympic Airways to a foreign company. Another ten flights - including flights to London, Larnarca, Tirana, Dusseldorf and Rome - had their flight take-off times changed during the work stoppage, which began at 12 midday. The Federation of Civil Aviation Associations (OSPA) called the walk-out last week after the national economy ministry announced an international tender for a manager for the ailing national carrier. The deadline for the expression of interest for the tender ends on Friday. According to sources, British Airways, Lufthansa and a US operator have already expressed interest in taking over management.

Greece, Russia stress importance of oil pipeline project

Greece and Russia are in full agreement on the importance of the construction of a Burgas, Bulgaria, to Alexandroupolis, Greece, pipeline to transport crude oil from central Asia, Greece's Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said on Friday. Papandreou was speaking after talks in Moscow with Russia's Liquid Fuels and Energy Minister Sergei Generalov. Further details of the project will be discussed when Generalov visits Greece in March, the Greek minister said. Papandreou was visiting Moscow to discuss problems in the supply of Russian natural gas to Greece via Bulgaria. The issue was raised during the talks, she said, adding the hope that the problems would soon be solved to the benefit of both countries.

Hellenic Petroleum workers call strike

Workers at state-run Hellenic Petroleum Corporation called a five-day strike beginning Friday, demanding assurances of job security. The strike effectively means that no petroleum products or natural gas will be distributed and refineries and chemical processing plants will have their supply cut by 50 percent. Apart from assurances about the status of their jobs, workers are demanding management come good on its pledges to plough one billion drachmas money back into the company to modernise installations. They say that if the investments in the company do not go ahead, plants will be forced to shut down, leading to a "foreign exchange haemorrhage" through the increasing need to import products.

Rhodes hopes to be Sixth Fleet's R&R spot

The holiday island of Rhodes looks set to become a permanent rest and recreation anchorage for vessels of the US Sixth Fleet if all goes well with a visit by US navy officers to the Aegean island next month. The officers will visit the island towards the end of March to ascertain whether the island satisfies all the prerequisites for providing anchorage facilities and receiving crew members on shore leave. The issue was first discussed last year by representatives of Rhodes municipality and the US Embassy in Athens after the US side expressed interest in selecting an island with the necessary infrastructure for R&R visits by US Sixth Fleet vessels all the year round.

ASE breaks another record

Greek equities remained on a record-breaking course on Friday with market sentiment supported by recent positive comments on the Greek economy. The general index ended 2.08 percent to 3,322.86 points, its 14th record this year, but off the day's highs of 3,442.34. Turnover was 159.2 billion drachmas and volume 30,568,471 shares. The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.98 percent higher while the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 2.09 percent upto 2,157.33.

WEATHER

Scattered rain and storms will prevail in most parts of Greece today with snow in the mountainous regions. Winds variable, moderate to gale force. Intermittent rain in Athens with temperatures ranging between 7-14C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 4-8C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 282.274 Pound sterling 458.562 Japanese yen (100) 247.355 French franc 48.723 German mark 163.410 Italian lira (100) 16.506 Irish Punt 405.811 Belgian franc 7.923 Finnish mark 53.754 Dutch guilder 145.029 Danish kr. 42.983 Austrian sch. 23.227 Spanish peseta 1.921 Swedish kr. 35.841 Norwegian kr. 36.982 Swiss franc 200.091 Port. Escudo 1.594 Aus. dollar 182.230 Can. dollar 189.492 Cyprus pound 549.310

(M.P.)


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