Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-14
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 14/02/1999 (ANA)
- Simitis predicts victory in elections for PASOK
- Hospitals on skeleton staff on Monday
- Russia, Greece tackle oil pipeline, natural gas issues
- Army special forces receive new speed boats
- Venizelos satisfied with progress, transparency in Olympic projects
- SE Europe Youth Centre set for approval
- US Sixth Fleet to consider Rhodes for R&R anchorage
- Archaeologists unveil ancient Macedonian finds
- Athens Stock exchange
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Simitis predicts victory in elections for PASOK
Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday expressed his certainty over the
victory of rulling PASOK party in the June Euroelections and the national
elections due in the year 2000.
Speaking in Serres, northeastern Greece, the premier said that the
government policy was bearing fruit and that the citizens will apreciate
those who speak with clarity and govern the country with responciblity.
He said that the opposition parties will get the ''first taste'' from the
Euroelections, when PASOK comes out first in the elections.
Mr. Simitis said that Greece will enter the European Monetary Union on its
own two feet.
He accussed the opposition parties of creating, supporting and participating
in the rallies of specific classes of citizens and noted that main
opposition New Democracy (ND) and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) are
under general mobilisation, since they know that the government is
achieving its targets.
Speaking on foreign affairs the premier said that Greece is exercising an
active policy, noting the efforts of Greece in overcoming the Albanian
crisis, as well as the hosting of the Balkan Summit in Crete.
Mr. Simitis also said that Greek-Turkish relations improved despite
opinions to the contrary and noted that despite forcasts to the contrary
the talks for the accession of Cyprus to the European Union took place and
that is a result of Greece's voice and presence.
Hospitals on skeleton staff on Monday
Hospitals in Athens and Thessaloniki will operate on a skeleton staff basis
as of Monday.
Doctors are continuing their strike action despite the government's
decision to satisfy one of their basic demands, that is to increase funds
for shift-duty allocations.
Doctors in Athens have announced six-hour work stoppages until Wednesday
while their colleagues in Thessaloniki will not work on shift-duty and at
the hospitals' out-patient centres.
Social Security Foundation doctors have also announced a five-day strike
starting on Monday.
Russia, Greece tackle oil pipeline, natural gas issues
MOSCOW (ANA - D. Konstantakopoulos) - Russia responded positively to Greek
proposals on the implementation of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline
plan during talks with Development Minister Vasso Papandreou here
Ms. Papandreou met with the Russian government's Deputy Prime Minister
Valentina Matvienko, Fuel and Energy Minister Sergei Generalov and the
President of GAZPROM Erem Viahirev.
She reported Greece and Russia were in full agreement on the importance of
the construction of the pipeline from Burgas, Bulgaria, to Alexandroupolis,
Greece, to transport crude oil from central Asia.
The Greek proposal envisages the creation of a company with a small initial
capital, the main aim being the conducting of studies and contacts with
petroleum companies to attract investors.
Speaking to reporters, Ms. Papandreou said that interest has already been
shown in the pipeline by American companies and added that the Russians'
response to her proposal was very positive.
Further details of the project will be discussed when Mr. Generalov visits
Greece in March, she said.
Apart from the pipeline issue, Ms. Papandreou also discussed with the
Russian officials the issue of the adequate supply of natural gas to
Mr. Viahirev acknowledged Russia's responsibility over problems presented
in natural gas supplies to Greece and promised they would not appear again
in the future.
In a statement published in Moscow's English-language newspaper "Moscow
Tribune" yesterday, the President of GAZPROM recognised that some problems
appeared in supplying Greece due to repairs of a "compressor" in Bulgaria.
Mr. Viahirev again raised a demand for an increase of about 25 per cent in
the price at which Greece purchases natural gas. This was rejected by Ms.
Papandreou on the grounds that contractual conditions do not exist (price
of oil and a divergence in pri ces in the Greek and international markets)
which would justify an increase in price. She said that if an agreement was
not possible on this issue, it could be referred to arbitration.
The Russian side conceded the existence of problems regarding the quality
of natural gas, but stressed that it has been at a regular level after
January 15. It also conceded the problems of pressure and the flow of
quantities and promised to do all it could to resolve problems created with
Ukraine, Romania and Moldova.
Ms. Papandreou said the station of Revythousa was to operate in a
supplementary fashion as of next summer to enable the handling of possible
problems in the supply of gas. She further stressed the need for a linkage
between Greece and inter-European gas networks to achieve the greatest
possible security in the country's supply and in the framework of the Greek
energy market's opening as of 2001.
Mr. Generalov said both the Greek and Russian sides had failed to meet
various aspects of the natural gas agreement and said there was a
possibility of a new agreement being signed in April.
The supply glitches have already affected the operation of industries in
Greece as well as power plants in Keratsini and Lavrion.
Greece has said it expects to import enough natural gas from Russia to
cover approximately 15 per cent of the country's energy needs.
In September last year, Athens signed an agreement for the joint construction
of an undersea pipeline to carry natural gas from Italy to Greece. The
project, when completed, is hoped to make Greece a natural gas junction in
the wider region of the Balka ns.
The Italy-Greece pipeline, to be part of the Inter-European natural gas
networks, will be financially aided by the EU.
Deregulation of the energy sector in the EU will mean that Greece will be
able to buy natural gas also from Algeria, The Netherlands and Norway
Army special forces receive new speed boats
The Greek Army Special Forces' operational capability has been boosted with
the addition of 18 speed boats, received during a ceremony at the Special
Forces Training Centre in Megalo Pefko, west of Athens, yesterday.
The "Magna 960" speed boats have a 15-troop capacity, they can reach a 45-
knot speed and have a 400-mile self-reliance allowing for greater
flexibility, effectiveness and mobility to the amphibious forces charged
with the defence of the country's island regions.
Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in a speech that the armed
forces' efficiency was being upgraded with the acquisition of the new speed
boats, in conjunction with the further procurement of inflatable craft.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos expressed satisfaction for the timely addition of the
"Magna 960s", the total cost of which was two billion drachmas, while there
was provision for the purchase of 14 more.
The ceremony was also attended by Army General Staff Chief, General
Venizelos satisfied with progress, transparency in Olympic projects
Culture Minister and President of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the
2004 Olympiad Evangelos Venizelos yesterday stated his full satisfaction
with progress in the construction of Olympic projects, as well as with the
transparency with which the Athe ns 2004 S.A. company is functioning.
He made the statement after chairing a meeting with the Sports Secretary
General, members of the Greek Olympic Committee and the president and
managing director of Athens 2004 on the crisis experienced by the world
Olympic movement in recent weeks, foll owing revelations of bribery
concerning members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Mr. Venizelos also reiterated that Greece has the opportunity and
obligation to contribute decisively to the rebirth and reprojection of
Olympic ideals. In this direction, Greece has undertaken considerable
initiatives, the most important being the Cult ural Olympiad, he noted.
Referring to transparency in the functioning of the Athens 2004 company,
Mr. Venizelos stressed it is the sole company in the broader public sector
which comes under continuous and daily audit by a special tripartite
committee of senior Audit Council ju dges. He said the prime minister's and
the government's resolve for respect for rules of transparency is being
Mr. Venizelos denied press reports of a delay in establishing a subsidiary
of Athens 2004 to supervise the special Olympic projects, adding that this
would be set up after specialised working groups had completed their
Mr. Venizelos also announced that the president of the IOC's coordinating
committee, Mr. Krog, will be coming to Greece on February 18-19.
SE Europe Youth Centre set for approval
The 3rd Conference of Students of SE Europe which began in Athens yesterday
is expected to ratify the decision of the administrative board of the
National Youth Foundation concerning the establishment of a SE Europe Youth
Centre as an international, nonpr ofit youth organisation with headquarters
Participating in the establishment of the regional centre will be the
student unions of Greece, Turkey, Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria, Romania, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
and Cyprus. Student representati ves from all these countries are attending
the three-day conference at the Zappion Hall.
One of the objectives of the centre would be to promote political stability
and cooperation in the region.
Speaking at yesterday's opening session, Education Minister Gerassimos
Arsenis stressed that the youth of SE Europe were beginning "to take the
destiny of the region in their own hands".
"Many believe that SE Europe is a powder-keg, but this is not so. The
consolidation of peace, however, will come only through cooperation," he
Mr. Arsenis said there were no longer any "substantial" borders between
countries, and those that did exist could become bridges of cooperation
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou reiterated a Greek proposal
for the organisation of an international truce during the staging of the
Olympic Games, as in ancient times.
US Sixth Fleet to consider Rhodes for R&R anchorage
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 th e year round.
In addition to the requisite port facilities, the island to be chosen must
also have modern hotels which can provide accommodation to the families of
Interest has also been expressed by Corfu in the Ionian Sea and Chania,
Crete, but Rhodes is seen to have the edge because of its waste treatment
plant which could serve the needs of the fleet vessels.
The US side is setting as a selection condition an agreement with the local
water supply and drainage corporation which would allow each warship
sailing into Rhodes to empty its waste at the plant for a fee.
During their visit to Rhodes, the US officers will also have talks with
Archaeologists unveil ancient Macedonian finds
Archaeologists in Thessaloniki yesterday unveiled important recent
discoveries dating to the ancient Macedonian era.
Head of the archaeological team Prof. Dimitris Pantermalis presented
remnants of a sanctuary of Olympian Zeus, including a sacrificial altar,
and public lavatories found at Dion, in Pieria district.
According to Mr. Pantermalis the sanctuary dates at least to the 4th
century B.C. since archaeologists discovered 4th century B.C. writing on
several slabs along with it.
The professor noted that the sanctuary was not just a religious centre but
also a political one.
The second find is a luxurius public lavatory of the 2nd century B.C.,
where free-flowing water ducts removed all waste, while the lack of
partitions indicated a different cultural stance toward this biological
Athens Stock Exchange
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. Sector indices scored gains. Banks
rose 2.51 percent, Leasing fell 0.82 percent, Insurance increased 3.93
percent, Investment ended 0.73 percent up, Construction rose 1.75
Scattered rain and storms in most parts of Greece on Monday with snow in
mountainous regions, with a possibility for improvement later in day. Winds
variable to moderate force.
Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 283.920
Pound sterling 461.915 Japanese yen (100) 248.069
French franc 48.699 German mark 163.329
Italian lira (100) 16.498 Irish Punt 405.610
Belgian franc 7.919 Luxenburg franc 7.919
Finnish mark 53.727 Dutch guilder 144.957
Danish kr. 42.962 Austrian sch. 23.215
Spanish peseta 1.920 Swedish kr. 35.764
Norwegian kr. 36.952 Swiss franc 199.491
Port. Escudo 1.593 Aus. dollar 182.325
Can. dollar 190.206 Cyprus pound 548.576