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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-07-25
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 25/07/1999 (ANA)
NEWS IN DETAILCentral banker to organise 2004 Olympics
Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday appointed a senior banker to head the committee organising the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Assuming the post of president of Athens 2004 SA is Panayotis Thomopoulos, deputy governor of the central bank, the prime minister's press office said in a statement.
Thomopoulos, 62, became the Bank of Greece's deputy governor in November 1994, and takes part in European Central Bank meetings.
He speaks English, French and Spanish.
Thomopoulos replaces Stratis Stratigis, who resigned on July 6 citing personal reasons.
The prime minister also appointed Niki Tzavela as the vice-president of Athens 2004. She is already a member of the organising committee's board.
The statutes of the company will have to be amended to incorporate the newly created position, the statement said.
Tzavela, a former New Democracy deputy, resigned as vice president of the Kokkalis Foundation in order to take up her new position. In the past, she was vice president of the Latsis Foundation.
Tzavela currently sits on the board of Harvard University's Kennedy School in the United States.
The Coalition of the Left and Progress criticized Simitis over the new appointments.
"The prime minister's decision will perpetuate accumulated delays, a lack of transparency, stagnation and the involvement of major vested interests in preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games," the party said in a statement.
Greece to keep military deterrence capbility intact
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday that Greece had no intention of lowering its military deterrence capability.
Tsohatzopoulos was replying to a reporter's question on whether the government's large-scale arms programme ran contrary to a dialogue with Ankara that begins on Monday.
"When you want peace, you have to make ready for war," said Tsohatzopoulos, quoting an old Greek saying.
Military deterrence acted as a counter-balance in negotiations of any kind, he added.
Tsohatzopoulos was speaking after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis to set the agenda for a session on the government's arms programme - especially the Navy - also scheduled for Monday.
Moslem minority living well, minister says
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday rejected calls by the country's three Moslem members of parliament and 13 non-governmental organisations for recognition of "a Turkish and a Macedonian minority" in Greece.
"Such minorities do not exist, however much anyone wants to create them," Tsohatzopoulos told reporters.
"Under the Treaty of Lausanne, there is only a Moslem minority in our country, which lives under the best conditions," he said.
The minister pointed out that a Greek minority in Istanbul had almost disappeared.
Also on Saturday, key Moslem officials sent an open letter to Greece's president and political leaders to mark the restoration of democracy 25 years ago.
The letter was signed by the three muftis in Thrace and the presidents and members of Moslem property management committees in Xanthi, Komotini and Didymotiho.
It was sent to President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and the heads of political parties.
In the letter, the Moslems welcomed the freedom of speech and respect for human rights that exist in Greece, especially at a time when neighbouring countries were undergoing war, repression and autocratic regimes.
They also welcomed the country's entry into Europe and the fact that it was able to offer third countries humanitarian and development aid.
"We would like to take this opportunity to underline that the minority in Greece enjoys all the rights and freedoms envisaged in the spirit and letter of international conventions that Greece has signed. The country has respected its signature, showing sensitivity and worthiness," the letter said.
One person killed in fast food restaurant blast
One person was killed and 16 were injured, six of them seriously, in a blast caused by a gas leak in a fast food restaurant in Volos, police said on Saturday.
The Fire Brigade launched a preliminary enquiry into the explosion on Friday night that wrecked the store and damaged nearby apartments, stores and vehicles.
Killed in the blast was Dimitris Kavaliotis, 25, a marine. Six people underwent surgery in a Volos hospital and the remaining 10 casualties received first aid.
The restaurant, Virgin Fast Food, belongs to a company owned by E. Vrantzas and K. Ziogas.
Messages on 25th anniversary of return to democracy
Prime Minister Costas Simitis noted on Friday that democracy is no longer threatened by "tanks or by supporters of irregular situations of the past" but by the wear and tear of politics, disdain and the lack of effectiveness in resolving the serious probl ems preoccupying citizens.
He made the statements in a message on the 25th anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece.
"A modern, dynamic society such as the one we are envisaging is precisely a society which is being continuously renewed. A society which is open to novelty, innovation and adjustment. A society of active citizens with ideas, inclination for creation and a disposition to offer. The policy we need today should not be limited to mere management but to the promotion of incisions for fewer coercions in life, more opportunities and possibilities of creation, autonomy and freedom for citizens," he said.
Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said that on the 25th anniversary of the restoration of democracy and on the threshold of the 21st century, the Greek people are at a crucial turning point, ready to make the big qualitative leap wh ich will bring them to the international forefront which they deserve.
Mr. Karamanlis said that a quarter of a century after the restoration of democracy, the Greek people have created, under the inspired guidance of Constantine Karamanlis, as well as the leadership of the other great politician of this period, Andreas Pap andreou, the heal-thiest and longest democratic form of government since the creation of the modern Greek state.
He said the attitude of the two men ultimately resulted in a rapprochement in the positions of wide sections of the Greek people. And the Greek people ultimately benefitted from this rapprochement, who are now ready to contest a better future and give G reece and its young people the prospects they deserve.
Piraeus Bank ups the stakes in battle for Ergobank
Bank of Piraeus on Friday made a new offer for Ergobank in its war with Consolidated Eurofinance Holdings (CEH) for control of the small private credit institution.
Piraeus informed the Athens Stock Exchange that it was now seeking 67 percent of Ergobank, or 27.3 million shares, up from 50.086 percent, or 20.4 million shares, in its previous bid.
The bank said the latest offer was made in response to requests from Ergobank shareholders, and was also geared to protect investors.
The bid extends the number of shares the bank wants to acquire based on the original offer of July 9, under which Ergobank's shareholders would receive 3.75 shares in Bank of Piraeus plus 15,000 drachmas in cash for each share they sell.
The latest bid by CEH, a Latsis Group company, offered 2.4 shares in EFG Eurobank plus 17,000 drachmas in cash for each Ergobank share. The bourse has yet to endorse the bid.
In a new twist, the Athens Stock Exchange said yesterday that CEH had to acquire 50.1 percent of Ergobank in order to secure control.
CEH had originally sought a minimum of 33.4 percent or maximum of 50.1 percent of the target bank against the 50.086 percent sought by Bank of Piraeus.
Bourse authorities therefore asked CEH to amend its bid in line with the ruling, making 50.1 percent the new floor of its offer.
EFG Eurobank said in a statement that the EFG Bank Group would comply with the order.
At the same time, its offer to buy 12,025,000 shares in Ergobank would, combined with the stake the Latsis Group already holds, total 50.1 percent of the target bank's stock, the statement said.
Karamanlis says government panicking
Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said on Friday that the government had gone into "panic" after last month's European Parliament elections.
Addressing a meeting of presidents of the party's prefectural committees, Karamanlis criticised government policy across the board in domestic as well as foreign affairs.
He epxressed concern over the Greek-Turkish dialogue that opens Monday, saying the government was being "dragged by pressure, recommendations, lack of strategy and weaknesses into a dialogue without guarantees and conditions", adding that the government's track record did not allow "confidence in its handling, as the balance has tipped against" Greece.
Karamanlis said further backdowns and concessions would not be tolerated as "the government supposedly makes gestures of goodwill and at the same time Turkey escalates the tension", and reiterated his call for establishing a Foreign Policy Council.
European Socialists prepare positions for Sarajevo summit
National Defence Minister and European Socialist Party vice-president Akis Tsohatzopoulos has set out four points that European socialists should put forth as their finalised proposal at the European Union's upcoming Balk an conference in Sarajevo.
He made the statement in Vienna after the start to the European socialist and social democrat parties' two-day Balkan summit.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said this policy should be based primarily on the need for the recognition and non-violation of existing borders and, secondly, on the need for support for democratic institutions, human freedoms and human rights as a basic ingredient for the operation of all Balkan states.
He also referred to the need for support in Balkan states for the implementation with EU funds of an integrated plan for the productive reconstruction of Balkan countries as a third point.
Lastly, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the EU should guarantee the common prospects of all Balkan states towards the EU through special processes which will recognise the strategic importance the accession of all Balkan states in common European prospects has for Europe.
Apart from Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, PASOK is also represented at the ESP's summit by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis.
Gov't condemns Ankara's recent provocations, talks still scheduled
The government attributes Ankara's stance over recent days, especially the harassment by Turkish warplanes of a civil aircraft carrying Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis, to "circumstances whereby intiatives are being manifested for the settlement of various issues." Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said these issues included the Cyprus problem, the Kurdish issue and Greek-Turkish relations.
Mr. Reppas said another example of Turkey's stance was the neighbouring country's issuing of a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) requesting that certain areas of the Aegean be reserved for Turkish air and naval exercises during the two-month moratorium on military flights over the Aegean in the summer, something agreed to in the past by Athens and Ankara.
Two Turkish F-16s on Wednesday infringed on Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) regulations and harassed an aircraft carrying Mr. Mantelis from Larnaca to Athens. The incident took place at an altitude of 28,000 feet south-east of Rhodes in air corri dor RED-19, which connects Larnaca with the Dodecanese island.
The harassment was also roundly condemned by Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who added however, that it would not affect efforts for a de- escalation of tension between Greece and Turkey.
Varvitsiotis sues Lambrakis press group over Litton probe
New Democracy deputy and former defence minister Ioannis Varvitsiotis has filed a lawsuit against the Lambrakis press group for defamation, following recent reports in the morning daily "To Vima" over an ongoing investigation regarding commissions by US defence contractor Litton in 1993.
The newspaper reported that Litton paid 12 million dollars in commissions to secure a contract for the supply of spare parts for Greece's F-16 fighters and while Mr. Varvitsiotis was defence minister.
"To Vima" quoted relevant court proceedings against Litton in a US federal court.
Mr. Varvitsiotis is seeking 500 million drachmas in damages,pledging to donate all the proceeds to charity in the event he wins the lawsuit.
Turk arrested after crossing to Samos on lilo
A Turk was arrested in the area of Kerveli on Samos on Friday after crossing to the eastern Aegean island on a lilo without any travel documents.
Ibrahim Kaya, who had set out from the promontory of Mycale on the nearby coast of Asia Minor, was expected to appear before a public prosecutor on Samos later in the day and charged with illegally entering the country.
There is speculation that Kaya, who has not requested political asylum, was trying to avoid compulsory military service in Turkey.
Information technology market jumps 34.3 pct
The domestic information technology market grew by 34.3 percent in 1998, the highest percentage increase in 10 years, according to a survey.
The survey by Strategic International/K.Kataras SA said the market was worth 276.7 billion drachmas last year.
The rate of increase is expected to decline in coming years, but not below 15 percent.
The market's explosive rise in 1998 was due mainly to three factors, the survey said.
For the first time, personal computers appeared in the market that cost less than 300,000 drachmas, expanding the customer base.
In addition, wider use of the Internet in Greece spurred sales, coupled with lower prices for personal computers.
Finally, debate on the "millennium problem" led many companies to buy new hardware and software, again stimulating sales.
Aegean Airlines makes deals with foreign airlines
Aegean Airlines announced that it had forged commercial agreements with a batch of foreign airlines.
The private Greek carrier said the operators were KLM, Alitalia, Northwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Middle East Airlines and Maersk. Aegean Airlines, which launched domestic flights in June, has undertaken to effect the Greek stretch of the airlines routes.
WEATHERScattered cloud is forecast in many parts of the country on Monday with unsettled weather in western central and northern Greece, turning to showers or storms towards evening. Winds will be westerly, light to moderate. Sunny weather in Athens but overcast towards evening. Temperatures between 22C and 36C. Changeable weather in Thessaloniki, including rain or storms in the evening. Temperatures ranging from 21C to 31C.
Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 306.905 Pound sterling 486.179 Japanese yen (100) 263.574 French franc 49.170 German mark 164.911 Italian lira (100) 16.658 Irish Punt 409.540 Belgian franc 7.996 Finnish mark 54.248 Dutch guilder 146.362 Danish kr. 43.340 Austrian sch. 23.440 Spanish peseta 1.938 Swedish kr. 36.676 Norwegian kr. 39.015 Swiss franc 200.905 Port. Escudo 1.609 Can. dollar 203.499 Aus. dollar 198.598 Cyprus pound 558.595 Euro 322.539(C.S.)
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