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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-08

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, 08/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • US, Greece see positive developments in Cyprus, region
  • Greek Parliament celebrates Europe Day
  • Papoutsis: EU expansion of great importance
  • New measures for Greek roads
  • Greek charge d'affaires to reopen Baghdad embassy
  • Papantoniou: Greece close to achieving Maastricht criteria
  • Tourism had beneficial effects on Greek wines and spirits
  • Santer will be asked to promote Black Sea, Balkan development
  • Partial privatisation for tax-free shops
  • Work progressing at Olympic Stadium for IAAF World Championship
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

US, Greece see positive developments in Cyprus, region

Positive signs in the Cyprus issue, relations between Turkey and the European Union and in the region in general were noted by both Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and US State Department's head of southeastern European affairs Carey Cavanaugh after a meeting here this morning.

Papandreou referred to Cavanaugh's "significant contribution" towards efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue as well as Greek-Turkish relations. At today's meeting, he added, there had been a general review of developments in both issues, as well as of the procedure for Cyprus' accession to the European Union.

The US official praised the Dutch EU presidency's proposal for the formation of a committee of experts to examine Greek-Turkey relations, the outcome of which, he said, would depend on the two respective governments. Cavanaugh also referred to "positive messages" arising from efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue, drawing particular attention to work in that direction by the UN Secretary General.

Cavanaugh also expressed satisfaction with yesterday's talks in Crete with Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis, saying that significant decisions had been made to expand bilateral military cooperation.

The US State Department official also had successive meetings with main opposition New Democracy party leader Kostas Karamanlis, and with visiting Cypriot Socialist (EDEK) party leader Vassos Lyssarides.

Lyssarides, who had met earlier with Karamanlis, said the Cyprus issue was at a particularly difficult stage which would determine future developments. He predicted "unexpected initiatives and expected pressures".

The EDEK leader called for a coordinated policy from political parties in both Greece and Cyprus.

Greek Parliament celebrated Europe Day

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou is currently having talks with Dutch European Affairs Minister Michiel Patijn focusing on the inter- governmental conference (IGC) for the revision of the Maastricht Treaty.

An extraordinary European summit will be convened in the Netherlands on May 24-25 to examine issues related to the IGC.

Addressing a special parliamentary session earlier within the framework of public dialogue on Europe's future, Patijn said the present Dutch EU presidency was optimistic that the summit in Amsterdam would have a successful outcome which would pave the way for the commencement of negotiations for the next phase of EU enlargement with the countries of central and eastern Europe and Cyprus.

Patijn said also that the new EU treaty would contain a new chapter exclusively devoted to the issue of employment.

It is the first time the Greek Parliament has held a special session as part of the public dialogue on Europe's future.

The session, organised with the cooperation of the European Parliament and European Commission representation in Greece, was held on the occasion of Robert Schumann Day tomorrow.

Addressing the session this morning, Papandreou said Greece had expressed its support for EU enlargement southwards, firstly with Cyprus' accession, as well as towards central and eastern Europe and the Balkans.

''We have also adopted the position in favour of the rebuilding of relations of security in Europe and the accession of new members in the south. We are promoting cooperation between the EU and the Western European Union (WEU), within the framework of the perspective of the latter being incorporated in the former. Cooperation which we do not see taking place far from NATO, but rather as a process for strengthening security in the continent and the strengthening of its ties with NATO,'' Papandreou said.

In order for there to be true democracy among the EU member-states, Papandreou continued, there must be ''an institutional system of substantial equality''.

''This means respect for the principle that each member-state should contribute one Commissioner, that the recognised principle at the Council of Ministers should not be violated, that states participate in the council with the same rights, and that the Union which we build will be a new type of creation, in which the cultural equality of different states and traditions is recognised...,'' Papandreou said.

Papandreou said Greece had submitted a special memorandum to the IGC concerning the strengthening of the position of young people in the Europe of today.

Papoutsis: EU expansion of great importance

Greece's EU Energy Commissioner Christos Papoutsis said today that the Community's enlargement towards Cyprus and the countries of central and eastern Europe was of great historical and political importance.

''It constitutes a necessary development for peace and stability in our continent,'' Papoutsis told a special session of Parliament held within the framework of public dialogue on Europe's future.

Papoutsis said the issue of enlargement should be placed within a specific framework and time schedule which would enable the countries in question to adapt to the EU in a smooth manner.

Referring to the EU budget and structural funds, Papoutsis warned that ''in our effort to tear down the walls which separate the EU from the other countries of Europe, we must be careful not to erect new walls within the Community''.

Papoutsis was categorical in his opposition to the concept of a 'two-speed' Europe, noting that the indications regarding the performance of member- states' economies were ''hopeful''.

''We must however continue our efforts and insist on strict adherence to the criteria laid down for accession to the third stage of EMU for all countries,'' he added.

New measures for Greek roads

Public Order Minister George Romeos today announced the formation of a special traffic police division to monitor traffic on the country's two main national highways in an effort to reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities.

When the special unit is set up in the next few days, Romeos told Parliament, a patrol car will monitor traffic at 30-kilometre intervals along the length of the Athens-Thessaloniki and Athens-Corinth motorways.

Romeos also announced that the government was considering banning the circulation of large trucks at weekends and on public holidays, when many city dwellers head for the countryside in droves.

A relevant EU directive had already been sent to the Ministry of Transport and Communications for consideration, Romeos added.

The road toll for the eleven-day Orthodox Easter holiday and Labour Day period this year was alarmingly high, with 65 people losing their lives in 520 road accidents. Some 740 people were injured, 145 seriously.

Romeos said most of the fatalities took place on the secondary road network and were mainly due to speeding and illegal overtaking.

Drunk drivers were also a factor, Romeos said, adding that in 1996 in checks carried out in Attica alone, 3,742 drivers were found to be over the limit.

Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis announced yesterday that the government would soon table a bill in Parliament providing for the formation of a National Council for Road Safety.

The task of the council will be to submit recommendations concerning national policy on road safety and supervise its implementation.

Greek charge d'affaires to reopen Baghdad embassy

Greece has sent a diplomat to reopen its embassy in Iraq, closed since the 1991 Gulf War.

"The (Greek) embassy will be fully operated," Christos Skoursis, the newly appointed charge d' affaires, said yesterday. Greece along with other western countries closed down their diplomatic missions in Baghdad after the 1991 Gulf War, which chased occupying Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

Mr. Skoursis said the embassy would open after settling some procedures. He did not elaborate.

Papantoniou: Greece close to achieving Maastricht criteria

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday said the Greek economy "is one step away from achieving the Maastricht criteria which will allow our participation in economic and monetary union by the year 2001, at the latest."

He made the statement during the annual Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) awards presentation.

The awards are presented to "self-starting businessmen", "businesses with tradition" and the businesses with the best results in their sectors.

During his speech, EBEA president G. Papathanasiou said the economy had improved over the past three years.

Tourism had beneficial effects on Greek wines and spirits

Tourism has had a beneficial effect on the sale of Greek wines and spirits, with Germany absorbing 90 per cent of ouzo exports to EU member states and 80 per cent of Greek wines. Mr. Yannis Boutaris, President of the Greek Wine Association said yesterday. He also emphasised the role played by Greek restaurants in Germany, which serve only Greek wines.

Ouzo exports in 1995 (11 million litres) brought in foreign exchange valued at 4.5 billion drachmas.

Exports to Germany in particular are expected to increase further as a result of a Foreign Trade Organisation promotion campaign budgeted at 500 million drachmas.

Santer will be asked to promote Black Sea, Balkan development

The Association of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE) is to propose to European Commission President Jacques Santer cooperation between the European Union, the Greek government and the business world of northern Greece with the aim of developing the Balkans and the countries of the Black Sea region.

The proposal will be put to Mr. Santer when he visits Thessaloniki on Friday. The Commission chief will be the main speaker at SBBE's annual general meeting to be held on the same day.

SBBE President Nikos Efthymiadis told a press conference that proposals will be put to Mr. Santer concerning EU enlargement and Greece's role, the way in which Greek businessmen will develop activities and the way in which the EU will become more active in the region.

"In order to confront the fierce competition from the Far East and the United States, the EU must strengthen the positive effects of economic integration...," Mr. Efthymiadis said.

Mr. Santer will for the first time participate in events to be organised in Greece on the occasion of Robert Schumann Day on May 9.

Partial privatisation for tax-free shops

The partial privatisation of tax-free shops, known as KAE, has been announced. KAE shares will be registered with the Athens Stock Exchange, as was done with the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE).

Tendering for a fiscal adviser for the KAE privatisation will be announced next week.

The partial privatisation will amount to up to 25 per cent of the share capital. KAE posted profits of 15.2 billion drachmas in 1996, while profits are expected to reach 19 billion drachmas in 1997.

Work progressing at Olympic Stadium for IAAF World Championship

Officials said yesterday that work on Athens' Olympic Stadium facilities has been progressing rapidly since the beginning of April, in view of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Championships due to be held there in early August.

The tartan track has been completely replaced on two of the warm-up tracks, and work on the third is nearing completion. The track of the central stadium, where all the events will be held, will have been replaced by May 18.

Part of the stands are being transformed in order to provide facilities for media representatives from throughout the world, while facilities for cameras are being installed both in the stands and by the long-jump pits.

All the facilities will have been tried and tested by July 20, the third and last day of the Greek national championships.

In another development, the US television network NBC has asked for an extra 40 accreditations for the championships, in order to bring its staff up to 130. The US network will have an area of 1,600 square metres at its disposal.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today except in the northwest and north of the country with the possibility of intermittent rain. Winds will be southerly, strong to gale force. Athens will be partly cloudy with temperatures between 16-26C. Possibility of rain in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 15-24C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 271.143 Pound sterling 443.860 Cyprus pd 529.827 French franc 46.666 Swiss franc 185.737 German mark 157.510 Italian lira (100) 15.917 Yen (100) 216.702 Canadian dlr. 196.436 Australian dlr. 210.334 Irish Punt 409.894 Belgian franc 7.634 Finnish mark 52.360 Dutch guilder 140.026 Danish kr. 41.360 Swedish kr. 34.918 Norwegian kr. 38.136 Austrian sch. 22.382 Spanish peseta 1.865 Port. Escudo 1.566

(M.P.)


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