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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-14

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, 14/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 yesterday.

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 Greece.

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 through Italy.

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 Manousos Paragioudakis.

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 observed absolutely.

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 task.

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 in Greece.

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 said.

Mr. Arsenis said there were no longer any "substantial" borders between countries, and those that did exist could become bridges of cooperation between peoples.

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 crew members.

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 hoteliers.

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 activity.

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 percent.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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 euro 319.444

(M.S.)


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