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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-12-17

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.forthnet.gr/ape>


NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 17/12/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov`t stands firm on farmers` protests
  • Funds for construction of major projects this week
  • Ciller threatens EU, Greece
  • Business group urges: decrease inflation, public debt
  • Drilling rights awarded for four regions
  • Credit card use in Greece skyrockets
  • Thessaloniki to show off Byzantine legacy

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Gov't. firm

    The govenment cannot enter into dialogue with protesting farmers under a state of threats and blackmail, Prime Minister Costas Simitis reiterated yesterday, as blockades of national and provincial highways entered their 19th straight day.

    While on a tour of Elefsina, west of Athens, the premier expressed the view that by and large, farmers stood behind the government, as it had adopted a series of measures and provided on the spot solutions to problems.

    "However, demands amounting to 800 billion drachams cannot be met because Greece will lose the battle of development and social justice. We don't want a society where, whoever occupies the road first gets the most money," he said.

    The premier said that as soon roads opened and economic life was restored, dialogue would begin immmediately.

    Earlier in the day, PASOK's political secretariat, chaired by Mr. Simitis, unanimously decided that the government should not give in under pressure, not even if the farmers marched to Athens with their families.

    Funds for construction of Elefsina- Spata highway

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and the Vice- President of the European Investment Bank (ETEP) Panayiotis Gennimatas yesterday signed an agreement for the first 45 billion drachma tranche of a 265 billion drachma loan to fund the new regional highway linking Elefsina- Stavros-Spata.

    The flow of funds is expected to begin in the next few days.

    Part of the loan, amounting to 220 billion drachmas, will be granted to Attiki Odos AE which was awarded the project. The consortium, headed by the Greek construction company AKTOR, will absorb the funds in gradual instalments.

    Mr. Papantoniou stressed that the highway, the fourth major project following the Spata airport, the Rio-Antirrio bridge and the natural gas network would have "considerable positive environmental effects for Athens."

    He said the Elefsina-Stavros-Spata-Imittos highway would provide 2,000 permanent jobs and another 5,000 additional jobs every year until the year 2003.

    On completion, the highway is anticipated to be used by 207,000 vehicles daily, relieving pressure on the centre of Athens and ensuring access to the new international airport at Spata, also under construction.

    Ms. Ciller threatens

    "If Europe does not accept the hand of peace which we are extending, and Turkey remains out (of the EU) then Greece should really fear," Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller said in Ankara yesterday on the way back from from Dublin where she attended the EU summit.

    Turkish press reports said that Ms Ciller lashed out against the European Union because Turkey was excluded from future EU enlargement plans. "Leaving Turkey out of the European Union will constitute a great injustice and historic error for the European Union," Ms Ciller said. "Enlarge the European Union and NATO without Turkey's consent, if you can," she challenged.

    Greek reaction

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who attended the EU summit in Dublin, described Ms Ciller's reaction to the results of the summit as spasmodic.

    "It is a pity that after a sincere discussion in Dublin, Ms Ciller is reacting in a spasmodic way. It was Europe that extended its hand and expects a sincere effort on the part of Turkey to respect the force of law, rather than threatening with the force of arms," he said.

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert said Ms Ciller's statements revealed of Turkey's long-term strategic planning, and that a "tough answer is required, not only from the Greek government, but also from the European Union, the United States, and the whole of the developed and civilised world since she was not threatening only Greece, but Europe as well."

    chart of national television frequencies

    Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis announced yesterday that his ministry will unveil a chart of the country's television frequencies on Jan. 15. He said television frequencies will be unified for the entire country, adding that the government is committed to "absolutely enforcing" the chart.

    The minister also presented the chart of radio frequencies for Thessaloniki prefecture, saying that 33 such frequencies are anticipated, of which seven will be provided for the state-run network (ERT), while 26 licences will be granted to area radio stations.

    Decrease of inflation, public debt, necessary

    A reduction in inflation and nominal interest rates combined with a reduction in the public debt, mainly from privatisations whose revenues will reduce the debt, is a key to success for the Greek economy in 1997, according to the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE).

    In a memo on the 1997 budget addressed to the finance ministry's leadership and to political party leaders, ESEE stressed, among others, that the course of the economy requires curtailment of expenditures to decrease public deficits, inflation and inter est rates, as well as to bring the public debt under control.

    Drilling rights awarded for four regions

    The rights for exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons have been awarded for an equal number of regions to the following four companies and consortiums:

    - Enterprise Oil Ltd. and Union Texas Transnational Ltd. for the northwestern Peloponnese region.

    - Triton International Petroleum Co. for the region of the west Patras Gulf.

    - Triton International Petroleum Co. for the Aitoloakarnania region.

    - Enterprise Oil Ltd. and Union Texas Transnational Ltd. for Epirus.

    The four companies were selected following an international tender for bids by the board of directors of the Hydrocarbons Exploration and Exploitation S.A. (DEP-EKY) and the Public Petroleum Corp. (DEP). According to the terms of the bidding, DEP-EKY wi ll have 12 per cent participation in exploration and exploitation in each of the areas where exploration rights have been awarded.

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said the four consortiums and companies will complete exploration programmes in the four regions within the next six to seven years, while the initial inv estment is estimated at more than US$100 million.

    Credit card use in Greece skyrockets

    Residents in Greece use credit cards at every opportunity, according to figures provided by the Consumers Institute (INKA).

    According to INKA, continuous promotion aimed at consumers to resort to modern forms of loans contributes to this trend, without however, a full awareness of the dangers of economic deadlocks being presented.

    At present, more than 1.15 million credit cards are in circulation, through which about 12-17 billion drachmas a month is loaned. The average charge for every credit card is 140,000 drachmas.

    Clothes and super markets each account for 18 per cent of credit card purchases, followed by jewellery with 6 per cent, electrical appliances at 5 per cent, petrol stations at 4 per cent, department stores 4 per cent and travelling, 3 per cent.

    Thessaloniki to show off Byzantine legacy in 1997

    Greece's second city has been delving into its rich cultural history, spanning more than 2,000 years, to come up with some rare gems for its year as Europe's cultural capital in 1997. An unprecedented exhibition of Byzantine art from the nearby all-male m onastic community of Mount Athos, where women are forbidden, is expected to draw more than a million visitors.

    "After two years of preparation, the treasures of our Byzantine tradition, which has been kept alive for centuries, will be displayed for the first time outside Mount Athos," Thessaloniki Mayor Constantine Kosmopoulos told reporters. A total of 589 items, ranging from gold-leaf icons to rare manuscripts, will be sent from the Byzantine monasteries dotting the Athos peninsula to be shown at the new Byzantine museum from June.

    Thessaloniki, founded in 316 BC and named after Alexander the Great's sister Thessalonikieia, is determined to show off both its unique roots and its new air as a vibrant university city.

    Events will range from ancient Greek drama to plays by Jean Cocteau and Samuel Beckett; from modern jazz to Puccini's La Boheme and Verdi's Il Trovatore.

    Exhibitions span the work of Caravaggio to sculptures by the surrealist Max Ernst and a retrospective of Hans Arp; from engravings by Goya to contemporary Yugoslav art.

    WEATHER

    Sunny in many parts of Greece and the islands getting cloudy later in the day mostly in the west. Rainfalls expected at night in the western regions. Partly cloudy in Thessaly, Macedonia and central Greece. Athens will be sunny with temperatures ranging from 9-17C. Thessaloniki will be partly cloudy with temperatures between 5-14C.

    SPORTS

    Best athletes of the year

    Greek Olympic gold medallists Pyrros Dimas, Akakios Kakiasvilis, Nikos Kaklamanakis and Yiannis Melissanidis, Olympic silver medallist Niki Bakoyianni and the Panathinaikos basketball team won top positions in the annual poll conducted by sports wri ters and organised for the 43rd consecutive year by the Panhellenic Federation of the Sports Press (PSAT).

    High jumper Niki Bakoyianni was voted the best Greek woman athlete in 1996 with 1,517 votes.

    The Panathinaikos basketball team (this year's European champion) was voted team of the year with 902 votes against 804 for the national waterpolo team, and 800 for the national basketball team.

    A total of 312 professional sportswriters and photographers from around Greece participated in the voting.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    (Closing rates - buying) U.S. dlr. 243.139 Can. dlr. 178.362 Australian dlr. 192.795 Pound sterling 403.526 Irish punt 403.327 Cyprus pd 518.419, French franc 46.354 Swiss franc 183.272 Belgian franc 7.590 German mark 156.404 Finnish mark 52.358 Dutch guilder 139.431 Danish Kr. 40.900 Swedish Kr. 35.629 Norwegian Kr. 37.492 Austrian Sh. 22.221 Italian lira (100) 15.893 Yen (100) 213.657 Spanish Peseta 1.860 Portuguese Escudo 1.552

    (C.E.)


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