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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 09/12/1997 (ANA)


  • Greece reiterates reservations for European Conference
  • Tsohatzopoulos defends Greece's new position in NATO
  • US to allow F-15 demonstration flights in Greece
  • Thessaloniki to host CoE conference on mass media policy
  • Journalists receive Botsis awards
  • Egnatia Highway proceeding well, Laliotis says
  • Greek stocks rise again driven by construction, investment
  • Government rejects civil servants pay claim
  • Trilateral meeting on Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline
  • OTE approves shares purchase, ratifies Armenian telecoms deal
  • Health care system inadequate, study shows
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Greece reiterates reservations for European Conference

Greece yesterday reiterated its general reservation regarding the setting up of a European Conference with the participation of the EU members, the 10 prospective members of central and eastern Europe, Turkey and Cyprus - as proposed in a report by the Luxembourg presidency presented to the EU Council of Ministers.

"Greece continues not to understand the meaning of a European Conference, apart from the desire of certain countries to satisfy Turkey's demands," Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said during a press conference, adding that despite this, Greece proposed certain ways out which could make the holding of the conference feasible.

"If certain rules of behaviour for countries wishing to join the European Conference are adopted, similar to those applying to the 15 EU member- states, including the peaceful resolution of differences on the basis of international law and the recognition of the general jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague, then the matter could be discussed," he said, obviously referring to Turkey.

"Turkey must proceed to specific steps towards democratisation and respect for human rights, being the only country wishing to join the EU which does not fulfil any of the criteria set at the Copenhagen summit," he said. He added that Turkey should stop raising any obstacles to other countries' EU accession course such as Cyprus.

He said he had stressed to the Council that it was clear negotiations with Cyprus would begin in April 1998, and that the legal and internationally recognised government of Cyprus would be sitting at the negotiations, which did not require a prior solution of the island's political problem.

Turning to Greek-Turkish issues, Mr. Pangalos said that Turkey was still seeking a resolution at a political rather than a legal level, and that Greece was not prepared to negotiate its sovereign rights.

"The problem is that Turkey does not accept the rules of the game. It's like wanting to play football with hands, when all agree that the game is played with feet," he said characteristically, adding that Greece proposed referring certain issues to The Hague not knowing in advance the outcome, but respecting the "rules of the game".

Tsohatzopoulos defends Greece's new position in NATO

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that Greece had for the first time acquired the right of veto in NATO following the agreement on the alliance's new structure last week.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told a press conference that Greece's position in NATO had been upgraded and reiterated that the country's interests were fully safeguarded.

"For 17 years, our country's participation in NATO was formal and unequal compared to that of Turkey, which had three regional headquarters, compared to one of ours," he said.

Greece now acquired equal participation in all the functions of the alliance, and retained the right of veto in all functions if the NATO commander's proposals were not in line with national interests, he said. All arrangements would remain in full force until their revision, despite Turkey's contrary view.

Nevertheless, he noted that there will be many difficulties in the revision of these arrangements, but Greece would make sure to avert any claims, privileges or advantages for other countries at the expense of Greece.

"NATO has to accept our country's structure, regarding the 10 nautical miles of our national airspace. Also, the terms of operation within the Athens FIR are in the exclusive competence of Greece, being dictated and emanating from international law," he said.

Commenting on disagreement expressed within the ruling PASOK party on the government's decision to sign the agreement, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that "some people" continued to think with criteria of the past which, however, had changed.

Referring specifically to the disagreement expressed by Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the former defence minister's position led nowhere since "if we adopt it, we would either have to remain outside NATO or be forced to retreat after six months."

US to allow F-15 demonstration flights in Greece

Replying to questions regarding the US decision to allow the demonstration of the F-15 fighter jet in Greece, State Department Spokesman Jim Foley said here yesterday that the decision was not related to a final decision to the selling of the ultra-modern jets to Greece, but was simply a preliminary phase of the procedure.

The American official said, "It is only a preliminary decision. The State Department gave permission last week to the F-15 manufacturing company to go ahead with demonstration flights in Greece, as part of its effort to compete in the proposed purchasing by Greece of advanced fighter jets".

Mr. Foley said it was understood that other European-made aircraft were to be also considered by Greece, and that the decision was carefully examined by top State Department officials wishing to make sure that "such a decision would be in line with the US interests in supporting a legitimate modernisation of NATO allies, promoting the US industry and securing stability in southern Europe".

The F-15 will now be one of the candidate aircraft whose purchase Athens will decide in the framework of modernising the Greek Air Force. According to indications, the candidate aircraft will be five: the US-built F-15 and F-16s, the French Mirage-2000,the Russian Sukhoi-27 and the Eurofighter built by a consortium composed of Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

According to US diplomatic sources, the release on the part of the United States was the result of coordinated action by Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Mark Grossman and the new US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns.

The F-15 costs about 50 million dollars compared to the much cheaper F-16 (costing about 35 million dollars).

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos told a press conference yesterday that within the next three weeks the Hellenic Air Force will conduct an evaluation of the F-15 fighter jet.

Thessaloniki to host CoE conference on mass media policy

Forty ministers responsible for communications and information from the Council of Europe member-states will meet in Thessaloniki December 11-12 for the 5th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy.

Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas and Council of Europe Alternate Secretary General Hans Christian Kruger will open the conference, which is taking place in Greece for the first time and is organised by the Press and Media Ministry.

Mr. Reppas will introduce the Greek delegation's paper "The society of information: a challege for Europe."

Journalists receive Botsis awards

The Botsis Foundation yesterday awarded ten journalists for " their work and their focus on the journalism code of ethics."

The 500,000-drachma awards were given at a special ceremony to: - Alkis Kourkoulas "for his well researched reports from Turkey, where he is a permanent corespondent of Greek media, which cover the entire spectrum of Greek-Turkish relations." - Christos Michailedis "for his approach on subjects of daily interest, his analysis and his excellent writing." - Yiannis Theodorakopoulos "for his successful service in athletic reporting and the advancing and upgrading of sports coverage through his many years of work as the Union of Sports Journalists' president." - Aristotelis Sarrikostas "for his successful missions for 30 years as Associated Press photojournalist in all the wars around the world and reporting with great sensitivity of the refugees' plee." - Christina Poulidou "for her objective coverage of foreign affairs and her interviews with European digitaries. - George Diamantidis "for his long time service in finacial reporting and his on target analysis." - Yiannis Diakoyiannis "for his successful coverage and promotion of parliamentary reporting and his journalistic missions in Asia and South America."

Egnatia Highway proceeding well, Laliotis says

The construction of the Egnatia Highway is proceeding according to plan and its completion will be within the scheduled time, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis told representatives of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE ) and its local branches in Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace yesterday.

Speaking at a one-day meeting organised by "Egnatia Highway SA", the minister emphasised that the European Union viewed the highway as an important part of the Intereuropean Road Network, and that was the reason why it agreed on its completion.

The president of TEE Costas Liaskas, however, expressed reservations as to whether the project would be actually completed by the year 2000, owing to organisational and administrative inefficiencies.

Nevertheless, Mr. Laliotis added that calls for tenders will be issued for all remaining parts of the project within the first half of next year, while he said he was certain that funding will eventually be secured for the final 60 km of the highway that are not part of a funding programme at the moment.

The minister also assured TEE representatives that no Egnatia Highway funding will be transferred for use in other projects.

He stressed that by the end of the year about 45 billion drachmas will have been absorbed in the project, and this amount may even rise to 60 or 62 billion if additional funding was secured.

Greek stocks rise again driven by construction, investment

Greek equities remained on a rebound for the 10th consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday with interest focusing on construction and investment issues.

The general index closed 1.0 percent higher at 1,566.81 points, to show an 11.78 percent gain over the last ten sessions.

Trading, however, remained moderate with turnover at 16.1 billion drachmas.

Sector indices scored gains. Banks rose 0.72 percent, Insurance increased 1.53 percent, Investment ended 3.0 percent up, Construction soared 5.5 percent, Industrials rose 0.56 percernt, Miscellaneous ended 1.66 percent higher, Holding was 1.08 percent up but Leasing bucked the trend to end 2.30 percent off.

The parallel market index for small cap companies rose 0.23 percent, while the FTSE/ASE index rose 0.87 percent to end at 896.18 points.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 147 to 76 with another 20 issues unchanged.

Alysida, Heliofin, Cambas scored the biggest percentage gains at the daily upper 8.0 percent limit, while N. Galis, Hellenic Sugar, Bank of Athens and Radio Athina suffered the heaviest losses. National Bank of Greece ended at 27,200 drachmas, Ergoban k at 16,000, Alpha Credit Bank at 17,330, Delta Dairy at 3,530, Titan Cement at 13,295, Intracom at 15,050 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,105.

Government rejects civil servants pay claim

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday rejected civil servants' demands for 1998 pay rises and an increase in their tax-free income.

Civil servants' union leaders told reporters after a meeting with Mr. Papantoniou that the minister had rejected their demands.

Mr. Papantoniou remained firm on the government's proposal of a 3.9 percent pay rise for the public sector in 1998.

Trilateral meeting on Bourgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline

A meeting among Bulgarian, Greek and Russian representatives on a project for an oil pipeline linking Bourgas and Alexandroupolis ended in Athens, regional development and public works ministry sources told the Bulgarian News Agency.

A memorandum on trilateral technical cooperation in the design of the oil pipeline was reportedly signed and an engineering committee which will be instrumental in designing the project and consisting of three representatives of each country was set up.

The meeting also agreed on a tender dossier prior to inviting tenders from prospective consultants on the project.

The Bulgarian participants set out a course of the oil pipeline in the country's territory, approved by an expert council. The Greek side is expected to do so by the end of this month.

The sides exchanged views on the setting up of a Trans-Balkan oil company which will operate the pipeline.

OTE approves shares purchase, ratifies Armenian telecoms deal

The Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation's (OTE) board approved the purchase of Athens Stock Exchange shares yesterday amounting to 1,470 million drachmas. It also ratified a contract to buy off the Armenian Telecommunications Organisation, but expressed reservations over the issue of programme agreements for which, according to indications, it will reach a decision today.

Health care system inadequate, study shows

Eighty per cent of respondents to a recent research study "consider the Greek health care system inadequate, not at all satisfactory, or even unacceptable".

The results of the study, released yesterday by the Union of Consumers for Quality of Life (EKPOIZO), also says that 25 of respondents, "consider they have fallen victims of discrimination in the sector of health care, chiefly due to financial inability , while few think that the level of information and training provided to citizens on the subject of health is adequate".

The study was conducted in a sample of 2,000 people by eight different consumer organisations in different parts of the country.

Thessaloniki EKPOIZO representative, Dr. A. Stavrakis, said during yesterday's press conference that relevant legislation in Greece had weaknesses, and presented a leaflet setting out patients' rights and obligations.

The organisation will also accept relevant complaints.


Cloudiness with sporadic local rain in the Cyclades islands, Crete and southern and Western Greece. Winds north to northwesterlies, light to moderate in the west, and strong in the east. Morning frost in the central and northern mainland. Snow has isolated 13 mountain settlements in Thrace. Athens will be overcast with temperatures from 3-13C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 1-10C.


Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 278.147 Pound sterling 460.228 Cyprus pd 530.641 French franc 46.459 Swiss franc 191.684 German mark 155.511 Italian lira (100) 15.883 Yen (100) 212.645 Canadian dlr. 195.523 Australian dlr. 186.074 Irish Punt 405.331 Belgian franc 7.539 Finnish mark 51.449 Dutch guilder 138.002 Danish kr. 40.837 Swedish kr. 35.577 Norwegian kr. 38.490 Austrian sch. 22.101 Spanish peseta 1.841 Port. Escudo 1.524


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