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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 96-11-07

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

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1034), November 7, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece determined to join EMU, Commission calls for further measures
  • [02] Greek leadership sends Clinton congratulations on his re-election
  • [03] Commission recommends intensified effort to meet Maastricht criteria
  • [04] Commissioners comments
  • [05] Simitis reiterates target of full EU participation during first post-election Parliament appearance
  • [06] US Navy helicopter carrier docks in Patra
  • [07] UN mediator Vance holds repeated contacts with Greek, FYROM representatives
  • [08] Reppas slams Tindemans report as 'bad faith'
  • [09] Kyprianou fears pressure over settlement of Cyprus problem
  • [10] Large-scale military exercise concluded
  • [11] President says no hasty conclusions should be drawn on missile boat accident
  • [12] Soumakis: Political will exists to punish those responsible for missile boat's sinking
  • [13] 10 violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes reported
  • [14] Simitis schedule
  • [15] Foreign ministry comments on sister city furor
  • [16] Souflias, Varvitsiotis confer yesterday in light of today's crucial ND meeting
  • [17] New FPA board announced
  • [18] European, Arab youth organizations to confer in Athens
  • [19] Greenpeace blockade of Motor Oil refinery broken up
  • [20] Soumakis urged peaceful end to protest
  • [21] Reppas distances Gov't from operation
  • [22] STOP PRESS
  • [23] Pensioners' rallies today throughout Greece
  • [24] New funds allocated to improve road network
  • [25] Simitis chairs meeting on budget
  • [26] Draft bills on scale back of tax exemptions ready for cabinet's approval
  • [27] Greek firms to present wares at Belgrade trade fair
  • [28] Int'l conference on Mediterranean tourism begins
  • [29] October inflation falls to 8.3 per cent
  • [30] Petrol prices decrease
  • [31] IAAF delegation arrives in Athens for talks over next year's World Athletics Championships
  • [32] Greeks preparing giant sand sculpture in Egypt

  • [01] Greece determined to join EMU, Commission calls for further measures

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday Greece was steadfastly dedicated to equal participation in the European Union, the same day a European Commission report called on Greece to adopt further measures in the effort to reduce its public deficit.

    In Brussels, Commissioner Monika Wulf-Mathies, expressed confidence that Greece can effectively reduce its deficit.

    "Greece can meet the target of reducing public deficit below 7.6 per cent of GDP for 1996, as stated in the convergence program of the Greek economy, but on the condition that the Greek government proceeds immediately to the adoption of the necessary corrective measures," she said.

    EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Yves Thibault de Silguy made statements to the same effect, stressing that no country could be excluded from the final phase of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), stressing, however, the need for Greece to make increased efforts towards monetary stabilization.

    The European Commission's twice-yearly review of economic conditions in the EU was published yesterday.

    According to the Commission, only Greece, Italy and Britain will fail to meet the deficit criteria laid down in the Maastricht Treaty as part of the prerequisites set for countries wishing to join a single currency in 1999.

    [02] Greek leadership sends Clinton congratulations on his re-election

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    The nation's top political leadership extended its congratulations yesterday on the re-election of Bill Clinton to the US presidency.

    In a message of congratulations, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos wished Mr. Clinton, who defeated Republican challenger Bob Dole, "success in his great and demanding mission."

    President Stephanopoulos also expressed his conviction that close ties between Greece and the United States "will continue to be developed and strengthened continuously for the mutual benefit of both our countries and for the promotion of the purposes of peace, security and progress throughout the world."

    In his message, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said: "On the occasion of your re-election as president of the United States, I would like to address my warmest congratulations to you and my sincere wishes for every success in your important mission".

    "I am convinced that during the course of your term in office, the friendly and constructive relations between the United States and Greece will continue to develop, not only to the benefit of their people, but also to the benefit of peace and prosperity in the sensitive regions of the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean," Mr. Simitis added.

    On his part, main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert also sent Mr. Clinton a congratulatory telegram, expressing his certainty that the "long-term and historical ties" between Greece and the United States will become even stronger during his next four-year tenure.

    In addition, the government yesterday officially welcomed Mr. Clinton's re-election victory, adding that it would judge the Clinton Administration's policy on Greece by actions and not words.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that with regard to Mr. Clinton's policy on Greece's national issues "we shall judge his deeds".

    Meanwhile, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday predicted that Washington would undertake "a new vigorous initiative" on the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations by February at the earliest, following the re-election of Mr. Clinton.

    Mr. Papandreou said Mr. Clinton's statements on adherence to international rules, international law and UN resolutions concerning the region "has indicated a turn in US policy in recent months, particularly following the Imia problem". Greece and Turkey nearly went to war earlier this year when Ankara openly disputed Greek sovereignty of the uninhabited eastern Aegean islet of Imia.

    Mr. Papandreou said that the thrust of US interest over the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations should be directed "in the form of pressure" to Ankara, "which bears all the responsibility for the Cyprus problem and its unacceptable claims in the Aegean."

    "We shall see, however, to what extent the US has the will to exert pressure on Turkey and to what extent there will be a substantial response from Ankara," Mr. Papandreou said, stressing that at the present time Turkey's foreign policy is represented by "many faces, and it is difficult for one to diagnose its true direction."

    [03] Commission recommends intensified effort to meet Maastricht criteria

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    "Positive steps have been made in the sector of the economy and the effort being made by the government, which will be reflected in the new budget, is to attain the targets set," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday. The spokesman w as commenting on the European Commission's twice-yearly review of economic conditions in the EU, which were published yesterday.

    According to the Commission, only Greece, Italy and Britain will fail to meet the deficit criteria laid down in the Maastricht Treaty as part of the prerequisites set for countries wishing to join a single currency in 1999.

    But despite its calculations, the Commission held out the hope that both Italy and Britain could still qualify for membership under the deficit criteria listed for economic and monetary union in the Maastricht Treaty agreed in 1991.

    On Tuesday, the European Union's monetary committee spent most of its time discussing Greece's economic convergence program.

    While officials gave Greece high marks for the work it has done towards meeting the Maastricht Treaty's economic criteria, they encouraged it to do more, sources said.

    "Greece's interest is not focused exclusively on its presence in the process of European integration, but also on its overall effort to upgrade its role and presence in the EU," Mr. Reppas said.

    Stressing that the government was making every effort to attain the economic convergence targets set, Mr. Reppas categorically denied that it was considering a devaluation of the drachma.

    Yesterday, the European Commission examined the budgetary situation of Portugal, Greece and Spain, the three countries benefiting from the Cohesion Fund which currently have an excessive deficit. The aim of this examination was to establish whether the annual budgetary deficit target recommended by the Council is met by these countries and whether financing of new projects or new stages of projects can be continued. The analysis came to the conclusion that funding should be continued for all three countries.

    Regarding Greece's deficit performance, the report noted that while the annual target for 1996 for Greece has been fixed by the Council at 7.6 per cent of the GDP, the Commission's autumn forecasts see the deficit for 1996 at 7.9 per cent. That would me an that it is outside the recommended target. However, verification of the reliability does not give sufficient certainty that the target will be exceeded.

    Consequently, at present, there are not sufficient grounds for the Commission to suspend Cohesion Fund financing in favor of Greece.

    Nevertheless, there is concern on whether the target will be met. The Commission will therefore write to Greek authorities in order to urge them to take all necessary steps to avoid exceeding the target, and to inform them about the consequences of non- compliance with the 1996 recommended target.

    According to the procedure, the Greek deficit for 1996 will again be examined in spring 1997 on the basis of final data.

    In Greece, according to the report, the average inflation rate in the year ending in September 1996 stood at 8.4 per cent which is significantly above the reference value; during the same period nominal long-term interest rates were, on average, 15.1 per cent, also clearly above the reference value.

    The Council has not yet abrogated its Decision of September 26 1994 according to which an excessive government deficit exists in Greece. In 1996 the general government deficit is expected to be reduced by 1.2 percentage points to 7.9% of GDP; the government gross debt ratio is likely to decline from 111.8 per cent of GDP in 1995 to 110.6 per cent in 1996. The DR does not participate in the ERM.

    According to European Commission's Economic Forecasts for Greece the GDP will increase by 2.5 per cent in 1997 as against a 2.4 per cent in the previous year; Investment will rise by 7.4 per cent, as against 7.3 per cent in 1996, while the Public Sector deficit will fall by 6.5 per cent from 7.9 in 1996.

    The government's gross debt ratio is likely to decline from 110.6 in 1996 to 109.3 in 1997.

    [04] Commissioners comments

    Brussels, 07/11/1996 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    On her part, Commissioner Monika Wulf-Mathies, expressed confidence that Greece can effectively reduce its deficit.

    "Greece can meet the target of reducing public deficit below 7.6 per cent of GDP for 1996, as stated in the convergence program of the Greek economy, but on the condition that the Greek government proceeds immediately to the adoption of the necessary corrective measures," she said.

    EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Yves Thibault de Silguy made statements to the same effect, stressing that no country could be excluded from the final phase of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), stressing, however, the need for Greece to make increased efforts towards monetary stabilization.

    Nevertheless, the French commissioner stressed that the targets contained in the two reports on economic convergence of member-states constituted, to a large extent, merely forecasts and working scenarios.

    "They are not the result of entrance examinations to the single currency," he emphasized.

    [05] Simitis reiterates target of full EU participation during first post-election Parliament appearance

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis told Parliament yesterday that Greece is steadfastly dedicated to equal participation in the European Union.

    In his first appearance in Parliament after the September general elections and within a framework of answering opposition questions, Mr. Simitis replied to questions put to him by main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert and Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos on the government's economic policy.

    Mr. Simitis said all measures included in the government's policy statements will be applied, adding that the state budget he will present in Parliament at the end of the month will be studied and will be acceptable in a wider sense as well as being socially fair. He said a statement by Mr. Evert that $500 million in foreign exchange left in the country a week ago is "alarmist."

    The main opposition criticized the government for having an unballasted economic policy, which he said caused confusion and concern among larger social groups. He also charged that the first law the government brought to Parliament concerned the settlement of debts owed by professional football clubs, and individuals who stole from the state by importing yachts and vehicles into the country for less than their real value.

    Mr. Constantopoulos claimed the government will take stiff measures and will impose increases in the rates of public utilities and in indirect taxation on such goods as cigarettes and liquor.

    In replying to both opposition leaders, Mr. Simitis said he cannot reveal the government's economic policy and referred them to the content of the budget, which will be announced at the end of the month.

    Replying to a question by Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas on education funds, Mr. Simitis said the budget anticipates increases in credits for education, which will be higher than in any other sector.

    [06] US Navy helicopter carrier docks in Patra

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Representatives of local military authorities in the Achaia prefecture visited the US Navy's helicopter landing craft carrier "Austin LPO 4" yesterday, which was anchored in the port of Patra. The helicopter carrier's captain, W.D. Valentine, spoke to reporters and gave them a guided tour of the warship's operations room, the bridge and engine room.

    Capt. Valentine said the ship has taken its name from the capital of Texas and is used to carry marines and amphibious landing craft and helicopters.

    The "Austin", due to leave for Israel yesterday, has a crew of 24 officers, 392 sailors and 913 marines.

    [07] UN mediator Vance holds repeated contacts with Greek, FYROM representatives

    New York, 07/11/1996 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    UN mediator Cyrus Vance held repeated talks yesterday with Greece's permanent representative to the United Nations, Christos Zaharakis, and the representative of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Ivan Tosevski.

    Diplomatic sources said frequent interruptions in talks carried out throughout the morning were probably due to the need of both sides to consult with their governments.

    "We had a discussion this morning. We are going for lunch now and we will return to repeat our discussion in the afternoon. We are at this point now," Mr. Vance told reporters at noon.

    Asked whether any progress was achieved, Mr. Vance said that "we are discussing these issues and it is obvious that if our target is to achieve progress we must continue to discuss them among ourselves. We will continue in the afternoon."

    Replying to a question on whether he is waiting for a response to continue negotiations, Mr. Vance said: "This is not accurate. We will be in contact with officials elsewhere, e.g. in Skopje, since we are having repeated talks with people there. Talks which will continue or not in connection with Greece. I have nothing more to say at the moment."

    Mr. Vance declined to comment on the question of what point the two sides should focus their attention to reach an agreement.

    The talks were due to be resumed at 9 p.m. Athens time yesterday.

    [08] Reppas slams Tindemans report as 'bad faith'

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    The government yesterday described as "politically and historically inadequate and in bad faith" a report by Belgian former prime minister Leo Tindemans entitled "Uncompleted Peace in the Balkans".

    Mr. Reppas stressed that the report, which purports to examine the situation and problems concerning minority groups in Europe and speaks of so-called "Turkish" and "Macedonian" minorities in Greece, was the result of work by private agencies and institutions.

    The spokesman termed "unacceptable" the report's reference to a state with the name "Macedonia" when the official name was Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, noting that the reference was an example of "extreme bad faith."

    Mr. Reppas underlined that the authors of the report had been fully briefed by the Greek government. The report, Mr. Reppas continued, also speaks of the co-existence of the "Turkish" minority in Greece by way of deviation from the Treaty of Lausanne, while making no mention of the gypsy and Pomac minorities living in Xanthi.

    In addition the report makes no mention of the continuing Turkish occupation of the northern part of Cyprus but only of the problems which, according to the authors of the report, have been created by the Greece-Cyprus joint defense doctrine.

    "These kinds of reports do not offer a good service, since they do not acknowledge existing conventions and treaties which refer to the problems in the region and in effect dynamite instead of facilitating the development of relations between peoples," Mr. Reppas said.

    Mr. Reppas added that the foreign ministry would be expressing the Greek government's disagreement with and serious objections to the report.

    [09] Kyprianou fears pressure over settlement of Cyprus problem

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Cyprus Parliament President Spyros Kyprianou yesterday expressed concern that pressure would be exerted "for Dayton-type meetings" within the framework of initiatives being undertaken for a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Saying that he hoped he would be proved wrong, Kyprianou also expressed fear that "there will be blackmail connected even with Cyprus' accession to the European Union."

    Mr. Kyprianou was speaking at a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart, Apostolos Kaklamanis, following talks between the two men. Commenting on recent developments regarding the Cyprus problem, Mr. Kyprianou predicted that the British initiative for a settlement would eventually become one with an anticipated US initiative.

    "Alertness and awareness is necessary on the part of all Greeks in order to confront initiatives which distort the physiognomy of Cyprus and fail to secure broad guarantees from the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council," Mr. Kyprianou said.

    Mr. Kyprianou stressed that Turkey did not invade Cyprus only to subsequently leave voluntarily, but to establish itself permanently "and everyone knows this but no one is prepared to acknowledge reality."

    "The Cyprus problem must once again become a world problem," he said, adding that it was in this direction that the Greek and Cyprus Parliaments were moving.

    Mr. Kyprianou was also received last night by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in the presence of Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    [10] Large-scale military exercise concluded

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    The annual military exercise "Parmenion '96", which was held around the island of Samos and in the northern Evros prefecture, ended yesterday, according to national defense sources.

    The final phase of the exercise, which was carried out in the Marathokambos region of Samos and employed live ammunition, was observed during its last day by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos , Aegean Minister Elizabeth Papazoi and most of the armed forces' leadership.

    On his part, National Defense Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis expressed his satisfaction over the effectiveness and fighting capacity of the armed forces, after watching the completion of the army maneuvers of the military exercise in Evros.

    Mr. Apostolakis praised the high quality of the troops, and particularly that of the conscripts, while he also spoke of the local community's trust in and co-operation with the armed forces.

    [11] President says no hasty conclusions should be drawn on missile boat accident

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos said yesterday that it was unacceptable to draw any hasty conclusions "and create impressions in general" regarding the sinking of a Hellenic Navy missile boat which was rammed by a passenger ferry on Monday night.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos was speaking on Samos where, together with National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, he watched the final phase of the "Parmenion" military exercise.

    The missile boat "Kostakos" was taking part in the all-service exercise when it was rammed by the ferry boat "Samaina" about 500 meters off Samos. A special navy committee chaired by a high-ranking officer is investigating the cause of the accident, as is a permanent admiralty court.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos expressed his deep regret over the "tragic accident" in which four crew members are still missing. The president underlined that the country's armed forces enjoyed the full confidence of the entire Greek people and himself and congratulated all those who participated in Parmenion.

    [12] Soumakis: Political will exists to punish those responsible for missile boat's sinking

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    In comments concerning the accident, Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis said that "the political will is, in accordance with the prime minister's orders, for those responsible to be found and punished in an exemplary fashion." After expressing his sorrow over the loss of the four crew members, Mr. Soumakis said his ministry is cooperating with the national defense ministry in order to complete the preliminary investigation into the accident as soon as possible. "This incident is a serious occurrence and must be dealt with equal seriousness," he said.

    [13] 10 violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes reported

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Greek national airspace and Athens FIR regulations were violated on 10 separate occasions by Turkish warplanes yesterday, with seven of the violations being perpetrated by Turkish F-16 fighters and three with F-4 "Phantom" aircraft between the islands of Samos and Hios, sources said.

    In all 10 instances, Hellenic Air Force aircraft intercepted the violators and escorted them out of Greek airspace.

    [14] Simitis schedule

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will visit Rome on November 20 and take part in the CSCE summit in Lisbon on December 2, according to his schedule for the next month announced yesterday by government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.

    On December 12, Mr. Simitis will pay a working visit to the Hague before flying the following day to Dublin to attend the European Union summit.

    Mr. Reppas said that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma would visit Greece on November 12-13, followed by Irish Premier John Bruton on November 14.

    [15] Foreign ministry comments on sister city furor

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    An article in yesterday's edition of the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia" criticizing a foreign ministry official for his views on Larissa's decision to become the twin city of a Turkish town brought a strong reaction from the foreign ministry.

    The article criticized the official for accusing the mayor of Larissa of harming Greece's interests by the decision to become a sister city of the Turkish town of Prokopi.

    In a statement, the foreign ministry said it did not encourage towns becoming sister cities "particularly when on the other side there is no clear condemnation of the Turkish occupation of Cyprus, of the attacks and provocations against our island regio n and of the brutal violation of the human rights of the people of Turkey and particularly the Kurds."

    Clarifying its position, the ministry pointed to "the effort of the Turkish leadership to create the impression that, despite the existence of territorial claims against Greece, in other respects it is possible for relations between the two countries to be normal."

    [16] Souflias, Varvitsiotis confer yesterday in light of today's crucial ND meeting

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    A crucial main opposition New Democracy political council meeting today is expected to tackle the major issues relating to the party's course towards its congress next year.

    At a meeting yesterday, described as cordial, recent leadership contender George Souflias and deputy party leader Ioannis Varvitsiotis reportedly agreed on most issues, but disagreed on whether it would be advisable to hold internal elections before the congress, sources said.

    Nevertheless, Mr. Varvitsiotis is reportedly in favor of broadening the congress, and does not oppose the idea of congress delegates being elected by party members.

    The same sources said Mr. Souflias would not object to Mr. Varvitsiotis assuming the presidency of the party until the congress, but the latter sets current leader Miltiades Evert's consent as a precondition.

    Observers expressed a view that the two men's convergence of views will become apparent during today's meeting, while also not ruling out that Mr. Evert might propose the congress be held as early as April.

    At any rate, Mr. Evert and other top party cadres reportedly disagree with the proposal that delegates be elected directly by the party's grass roots, saying that prospect is not provided for in ND's charter.

    Mr. Evert was said to be leaning towards adoption of final decisions during a meeting with close aides later in the day, and after another likely meeting with Mr. Souflias.

    [17] New FPA board announced

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    The new board of the Foreign Press Association of Greece following the organization's Oct. 30 election are as follows:

    President: Evangelos Antonaros (Die Welt) Vice-President: Costas Paris (Reuter) Secretary General: Patrick Quinn (Associated Press) Treasurer: Nawab Khan (IRNA) Special Secretary: Vera Koridi (Cypriot Press) Advisors: Costas Tsatsaronis (Deutsche Welle) Rea Sourmeli (Agence France Presse) Takis Berberakis (Milliyet) Alternates: Nikos Papazoglou (Associated Press) Sameh Abdallah (Al Ahram)

    [18] European, Arab youth organizations to confer in Athens

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Representatives of several European and Arab youth organizations are to attend the third preliminary meeting being organized in Athens by the Greek youth general secretariat, in co-operation with the Council of Europe.

    The meeting aims to prepare the conference on "Euro-Arab Youth Dialogue for Mutual Understanding and Co-operation", which is to be held in Budapest this December.

    Representatives of roughly 100 European and Arab youth and international organizations are to attend the conference.

    [19] Greenpeace blockade of Motor Oil refinery broken up

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    The captain of the Greenpeace vessel "Arctic Sunrise" and 15 activists of the international environmental organization were arrested early yesterday at the Motor Oil refinery installations at Aghioi Theodoroi, Corinth, charged with breaking the law by disrupting sea navigation.

    Greenpeace activists had chained themselves since Tuesday to mooring buoys and loading cranes, while the Arctic Sunrise blocked access to the refinery's port demanding stricter safety measures.

    The 16 activists were arrested early in the morning on order of the Corinth Public Prosecutor, who had warned the protesters that they were breaking the law by obstructing marine navigation.

    The Arctic Sunrise's captain, David Enever, was arrested later after refusing to move the ship out of the area.

    [20] Soumakis urged peaceful end to protest

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis later told reporters that he had asked the Greenpeace activists to leave the Motor Oil installations peacefully.

    "Unfortunately, on the instructions of the public prosecutor of Corinth, 14 persons, the captain and the person in charge of the ecology operation, Nikos Charalambidis, were arrested. Since yesterday morning, I personally had tried to persuade the protesters, underlining our sensitivity on environmental issues," Mr. Soumakis said.

    Expressing regret over the outcome of the operation, Mr. Soumakis added that in addition to his own efforts, the chief of the coast-guard sent a fax to the (Corinth) Isthmus Coast-guard Headquarters informing that a group of officers were considering taking "new security measures."

    Mr. Soumakis said that the Isthmus coast-guard chief forwarded the fax to the protesters who, however, were not persuaded.

    "Excesses do not help, but the decision was taken by the public prosecutor," the minister added.

    [21] Reppas distances Gov't from operation

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Commenting on the arrests, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas reiterated that the government showed sensitivity regarding ecological issues and underlined that the motives of the persons arrested "are certainly not ignoble."

    Distancing the government from yesterday's arrests, Mr. Reppas stressed that the entire procedure had been carried out on the orders of the public prosecutor.

    Mr. Reppas said that the government had already set up a 17-member committee to deal with issues related to the protection of the marine environment and called on Greenpeace to co-operate with the committee.

    The early morning operation also drew fire from opposition left parties. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said that yesterday's events illustrated that the "PASOK government has turned into the guardians of the folios of big capital and the oligarchy , stamping on basic rules of protection of the environment and human conditions of life".

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress condemned the "use of brute force", noting that the "lack of basic safety measures leads to the continuous pollution of the Saronic Gulf by petroleum". The Coalition also addressed a question to Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis on what emergency procedures were to be taken for "an extremely polluted region".

    The Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) said that the harbor authorities operation was carried out for the government "to protect the interests of the proprietor of Motor Oil". These acts, DHKKI added, "revive older, darker periods and speak of the dependence of the government on great economic groups".

    [22] STOP PRESS

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Late last night, the 16 activists were set free, after a Corinth public prosecutor had committed them for trial on charges of disturbing the peace on February 6.

    [23] Pensioners' rallies today throughout Greece

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Pensioners' federations of the IKA, TEBE , TSA funds and other organizations will hold rallies in many cities throughout the country today to promote their demands.

    Pensioners' main demand is an increase in pensions equal to 20 daily wages of an unskilled laborer as well as better medical and pharmaceutical care, a review of drug prices and a reduction of contribution percentages from 25 per cent to 10 per cent. They are also demanding an EKAS bonus to be provided for pensioners.

    A rally in Athens will be held at Kaningos Square at 9:30 a.m., while more rallies will be held in Thessaloniki, Larisa, Ioannina, Kavala and Irakleio.

    Support for the rallies has also been expressed by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Athens Labor Center.

    [24] New funds allocated to improve road network

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis has earmarked credits amounting to 2.7 billion drachmas for tendering for projects on the country's road network.

    The credit will be used for projects along the Iraklion-Athanatoi-Agioi Deka motorway, construction of the Deskati-Kalambaka motorway, the Epta Lakkoi Grevenon bridge, the Drepanou Kozanis overpass and the improvement of the Linaria-Kalamitsa road in Skyros.

    [25] Simitis chairs meeting on budget

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired another meeting yesterday of the government's economy ministers in view of the 1997 budget due to be tabled in Parliament this month.

    The meeting, the second in two days, lasted for three hours and was held with the participation of National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou, and Economy Under-secretary Christos Pahtas and Finance Undersecretaries George Drys and Nikos Christodoulakis.

    The meeting focused mainly on the legal aspects of the budget, particularly the draft bills regarding public expenditure cutbacks and tax relief.

    Speaking to the press after the meeting, Mr. Papantoniou said the prime minister would bring the draft bills to the inner cabinet for approval prior to tabling the budget in Parliament.

    [26] Draft bills on scale back of tax exemptions ready for cabinet's approval

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Two draft bills on the abolition of tax exemptions and the slashing of public spending will now be submitted to the cabinet, after being finalized yesterday during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    Roughly 280 out of 800 tax exemptions which have been examined are to be cut or amended. All reductions for deputies, artists, athletes, pilots, journalists, mayors and judicial officials, among others, are to be scrapped.

    Tax exemptions for donations, attorney's fees and tuition for private tutorial schools and private lessons are also being abolished.

    [27] Greek firms to present wares at Belgrade trade fair

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    A number of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace based companies will participate in an international foodstuffs and beverages exhibition to be held in Belgrade on December 11-14, in an attempt to enter the Yugoslav market.

    On the sidelines of the exhibition, which is held with the participation of the largest Yugoslav companies in the sector of foodstuffs production as well as with the largest importers and distributors of foodstuffs from Balkan and European countries, the Greek businessmen are expected to meet and discuss co-operation with their Yugoslav colleagues and other businessmen from the Balkans.

    Prospects in the food sector of the Yugoslav market look promising but a wave of Western European companies which has appeared in the market is causing increasing competition.

    [28] Int'l conference on Mediterranean tourism begins

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    An international conference on tourism promotion for the Mediterranean basin will start in Malta today and continue until Sunday.

    Greek Tourism Organization (EOT) president Ioannis Stefanidis will represent Greece at the conference which will be sponsored by the World Tourism Organization.

    [29] October inflation falls to 8.3 per cent

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    Inflation fell in October to 8.3 per cent from 8.5 per cent in September, according to figures released yesterday by the National Statistics Service (ESYE).

    The figure is the same as for October 1995 and resulted from a 0.9 per cent increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) compared to a 1.1. per cent increase in the same month last year.

    The rise in the October CPI was mainly due to price increases of winter clothing and footwear, pork, lamb, goat meat, fruit, vegetables, furniture and household consumer goods.

    In addition there were price increases of gasoline, bus fares in the provinces and rents.

    These increases were offset by reductions in the prices of fresh fish, potatoes and heating oil.

    The ESYE estimated that if the present good weather keeps up and there are no "unexpected" developments, inflation will mark a further drop in November.

    [30] Petrol prices decrease

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    The retail sale price of gasoline decreased by 0.70 drachmas per liter as of midnight yesterday and for one week, while diesel was also slashed by 3.70 drachmas per liter.

    Heating oil dropped by 2.70 drachmas per liter and now stands at about 103 drachmas per liter.

    In the Attica area and the Thessaloniki prefecture super gasoline will cost 216.30 drachmas per liter and unleaded 200.30.

    Announcements by the development ministry and the Public Petroleum Corp. (DEP) said decreases in fuel prices were brought about by a decrease in international prices.

    [31] IAAF delegation arrives in Athens for talks over next year's World Athletics Championships

    Athens, 07/11/1996 (ANA)

    The president of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), Primo Nebiolo, arrived in Athens yesterday at the head of a IAAF large delegation to discuss issues relating to the World Athletics Championships (Athens '97) scheduled for next summer.

    Mr. Nebiolo was met at the airport by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras, the president of the Greek Athletics Federation (SEGAS) Stratos Molyvas and other Athens '97 officials.

    "I am very glad to be in Athens, where the World Athletics Championships will take place, the largest international sporting event next year. I was very happy to see that I was met at the airport by very important individuals, who are also personal friends of mine... In Greece I am at home, I feel it is my second home country," he stated after his arrival.

    Mr. Papandreou welcomed Mr. Nebiolo, describing him as "a remarkable man and a friend of Greece."

    On his part, Mr. Fouras said the visit of IAAF officials "will give us the opportunity to assess the course of Athens '97, and to adopt measures and decisions that will crown this important event with full success. I hope and wish that when Mr. Nebiolo leaves, the great preparation for this event will have been stressed, and there will be the certainty that the time left until the games will be utilized successfully, thus considerably helping Greece's other pursuits in future."

    Mr. Nebiolo is scheduled to have successive meetings with SEGAS officials this morning, Mr. Fouras at noon, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos in the afternoon and President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos in the early evening, as well as with the governing board of the Greek Olympic Committee and the permanent members of the International Olympic Committee, Nikos Filaretos and Lambis Nikolaou.

    He is scheduled to give a press conference at a central Athens hotel tomorrow at noon, and leave for Rome at 4 p.m.

    [32] Greeks preparing giant sand sculpture in Egypt

    Cairo, 07/11/1996 (Reuters/ANA)

    Three Greeks are creating what they say will be the largest current land art project in the world - a set of perfect cones made of sand and arranged in spirals over 10 hectares (25 acres) of Egyptian desert.

    Bulldozers have started work at the site on the Red Sea coast in Septmeber and the work of art, known as Desert Breath, will be ready for inauguration in ceremonies between November 29 and December 1, one of the organizers said on Wednesday.

    Once the work is complete, they will document its decay over six months as the wind wears the cones away, said Wail Khalil, a marketing executive with sponsoring company Orascom.

    The project is the brainchild of Alexandra Stratou, Danae Stratou and Stella Constantinides, known as the D.A.S.T. Art Team, a statement from the organizers said.

    Khalid said the center of the work would be an artificial lake 30 meters (100 feet) in diameter. Two spirals, one of sand cones and one of conical depressions cut into the floor of the desert, would circle outwards in the shape of a nautilus shell.

    The 178 cones start small, at about 50 cm (20 inches) high, rising at the outside to almost four meters (13 feet).

    "The climax, when everything is geometrically perfect, will be at sunset and we'll light it with torches. Then we will follow the sand as it moves and the work decays," said Khalid.

    "By creating conical volumes as precise geometrical forms, the passage of time can be measured through their slow disintegration," the statement said.

    "At this instant in time, which signals the simultaneous completion of all the cones, the ritual of inauguration will take place to make time zero before the work begins its gradual transformation," it added.

    The site of the work is a flat expanse of sand between the Red Sea and mountains at El Gouna, 21 km (13 miles) north of the southeastern tourist resort of Hurghada.

    End of English language section.


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