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

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, 09/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece stands firm regarding European Conference
  • TVX protestors ready for court
  • Defence Minister receives new US Ambassador
  • Vergina declared UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Army buys German jeeps
  • 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

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece stands firm regarding European Conference

The government said today that it remained firm in its position on the issue of the proposed European Conference for prospective EU members, with regard whether Turkey should participate or not.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that tomorrow's meeting between Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Luxembourg counterpart Jean- Claude Juncker, whose country currently holds the rotating European Union presidency, might create the conditions "for a change of stance and a re- examination of the issue".

He underlined however that at the present time this did not appear likely.

A number of EU countries have proposed that Turkey participate in the European Conference, while Greece said Ankara should be allowed to participate only if it first fulfilled prerequisites which Athens insists govern relations of all civilised countries.

TVX protestors ready for court

Representatives of communities in Halkidiki, northern Greece, which are opposed to gold mining activities in the region by TVX Hellas said today that they would have recourse to the Council of State if the company moved to establish its installations in any location other than the site at Ecclesiastikos Mylos.

Ano Stavros community president Vassilis Naoum told the ANA that protest action by local residents would from now on take the form of legal action, since the coordinating committee for the communities of Strimonikos now had evidence on which they could base legal appeals.

Police and local residents have clashed in recent months in the area, following residents' complaints that gold mining in the area will have a serious impact on the environment.

TVX Hellas, a subsidiary of the Toronto-based TVX Gold company, received a concession for exploitation of the Cassandra gold mines in March 1995 after international tendering. Under the privatisation agreement signed in December 1995, the 67 billion drachma investment is expected to create some 617 jobs.

Local government representatives told a press conference in Thessaloniki today that according to "reliable information", a study by the Institute of Geological and Metallurgical Research (IGME) had designated the area Ecclesiastikos Mylos as the site for TVX's operations.

The chairman of the committee coordinating protests against the mining, Antonis Stoitsas, warned the government and the administration of IGME not to attempt "behind-the-scenes skullduggery aimed at modifying the study".

Replying to criticism that the delay in the realisation of the investment was due to local protests, Stoitsas countered that the delay was due to technological problems facing the company which had not been resolved.

He intimated that TVX may have sought the delay in order to secure compensation from the Greek state, and charged that TVX was continuing to cause pollution in the area, despite statements by the company underlining its concern for the environment.

Citing the results of recent measurements of effluence from the plant spilling into a stream in the Olympias region, he said the levels of arsenic and lead were far in excess of permissible limits.

The company told the ANA however that the measurements were taken in an area with a high concentration of arsenic pyrites, which had amassed during the operation of the plant by the previous owners.

TVX Hellas maintained that the concentration had not been cleared because access to the area had been made impossible due to the recent protests of local people.

Defence Minister receives new US Ambassador

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos received the new US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns today. It was their first meeting since Burns arrived in Athens last week to take up his post.

Tsohatzopoulos said afterwards that various bilateral issues had been discussed. He expressed the hope that the spirit of good relations between the two countries would continue, based on common interests.

Burns declared the US' willingness to offer strong support for the Greek armed forces' modernisation programme, adding that the latest American aircraft would be made available to Greece.

Vergina declared UNESCO World Heritage site

The archaeological site of Vergina, where the tomb of Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, was discovered, has been officially declared a World Heritage Monument by UNESCO.

The official declaration was made yesterday at the site by UNESCO General Director Federico Mayor, who was accompanied by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Greece's ambassador to UNESCO Vassilis Vassilikos.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mayor expressed his admiration for the archaeological finds at Vergina and pledged that UNESCO, in cooperation with the Greek culture ministry, would make every effort to protect and promote them and to assist the continuation of excavations at the site.

Army buys German jeeps

Greece today signed an agreement with the German vehicle manufacturer "Mercedes" for the purchase of 305 quarter-ton jeeps to cover its military needs, Defence Ministry sources said.

The agreement for the jeeps, valued at 4.4 billion dr., was signed by the Defence Ministry's armaments procurement directorate and the Hellenic Vehicle Industry (ELBO) with the German manufacturer.

The sources said that 225 of the jeeps will be for general use and 80 for the transport of injured persons. Ten of the jeeps would cover the needs of the Hellenic Airforce.

The jeeps will be delivered by the end of 1998.

The sources said another 30 billion dr. agreement for the procurement of 2, 000 one-ton and quarter-ton military vehicles would be signed next year.

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.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(M.P.)


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