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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-02-12

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, 12/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece to give EU its EURO plan by May
  • Rates slip after central bank intervention
  • Greek stocks jump on declining rates
  • 16.6 billion drachmas for infrastructure works
  • Formation of joint pipeline company in March
  • Gov't says no activity underway in relation with Iraqi crisis
  • Turkish interest in US-made F-15s, Greece as well
  • Turkish warplanes violate Greek airspace
  • Ciller favoured confrontation with Greece during Imia crisis
  • Increased domestic participation in defence purchases
  • Gov't says no change in air corridors over Aegean
  • Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister on official visit to Athens
  • New civil servants code presented to Premier
  • Archbishop Serapheim released from hospital
  • Provision on seamen's benefits within EU discussed
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece to give EU its EURO plan by May

Greece will submit to the European Union by May its plan to participate in the single European currency, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.

Mr. Papantoniou was addressing a national coordinating committee created to handle planning for entry into the unified European currency.

Greece intends to join on Jan. 1, 2001.

The government's entry plan, which includes clearing legal obstacles, is currently being drafted at the state's General Accounting Office, which belongs to the finance ministry.

As far as the national coordinating committee for the euro is concerned, it will be responsible for preparing the nation's public administration as well as the private sector. In addition, sub-groups will consider specialised issues regarding the euro.

According to Mr. Papantoniou, a work group will be established at the national economy ministry to cover issues related to the bourse, while a similar work group at the finance ministry will consider issues related to the public debt, payrolls and social security. Other work groups will focus on taxation, customs and banking issues.

Rates slip after central bank intervention

Interbank rates remained on a steady, although slow, declining trend with the help of an intervention yesterday by the Bank of Greece.

The central bank's overnight intervention rate dropped to 17.5 per cent from 18 per cent last week. The bank drained 200 billion drachmas of excess liquidity from the market.

The drachma was slightly higher against the deutschmark at the central bank's daily fixing in the domestic foreign exchange market. The Greek currency was stable against the Ecu but fell slightly against the US dollar.

Greek stocks jump on declining rates

Greek equities ended sharply higher yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange reflecting the market's relief over a steady decline in interbank rates.

The general index closed 1.55 percent up at 1,532.62 points with most sector indices scoring gains.

Banks rose 1.55 percernt, Insurance surged 3.17 percent, Investment was 0.82 percent up, Construction increased 1.96 percent, Industrials rose 1.25 percent, Miscellaneous soared 2.71 percent and Holding was 1.47 percent higher. Leasing bucked the trend to end 0.28 percent down.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 0.20 percent up. The FTSE/ASE blue chip index rose 1.40 percent to end at 858.69 points.

Trading was heavy with turnover at 20.2 billion drachmas.

Broadly, advancers led decliners by 138 to 72 with another 34 issues unchanged.

Keranis, Hellenic Sugar, Endisi and Gener scored the biggest percentage gains at the daily 8.0 percent upper volatility limit, while Athinea, Fourlis, Pairis and Balkan Export suffered the heaviest losses at the daily 8.0 percent limit down.

National Bank of Greece ended at 23,550 drachmas, Ergobank at 15,600, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,870, Delta Dairy at 2,985, Titan Cement at 14,490, Intracom at 15,800 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6, 015.

16.6 billion drachmas for infrastructure works

Greece's public works ministry yesterday endorsed the release of 16.6 billion drachmas in funds in order to tender infrastructure works around the country.

The main road, airport renewal and flood prevention projects are as follows:

Improvements to roads in the prefecture of Aitoloakarnania, budgeted at four billion drachmas.

Landslide repairs to the Evinos Dam and road repair works in the area, budgeted at four billion drachmas.

Extension of Aktio Airport, budgeted at 3.4 billion drachmas.

Extension of Skiathos Airport, budgeted at 2.7 billion drachmas.

Formation of joint pipeline company in March

The joint firm Interbalkan Pipeline will probably be established in March with the participation of representatives from Greece, Bulgaria and Russia with the purpose of starting preparations for construction work on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, Deputy Prime Minister Yevgeni Bakarziev announced in Sofia yesterday.

The strategic project is assessed at about US$750 million, according to the Bulgarian official, who referred to the project and other investment plans in an address at a conference for foreign investors.

According to Mr. Bakarziev, the cost of building the pipeline between Burgas-Vlore, Albania, via the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will exceed one billion dollars.

Mr. Bakarziev and other members of the Bulgarian government presented programmes to 70 foreign investors concerning the modernisation of the ports of Burgas and Varna, Sofia airport and many other investment opportunities in the framework of Bulgaria's extensive privatisation programme.

Greek executive Christos Katsanis, an executive director of the National Bank's branch office and president of the federation of foreign investors in the country, said the Sofia conference on investments was an important and useful initiative to attract foreign investments to Bulgaria.

Gov't says no activity underway in relation with Iraqi crisis

The government yesterday described as "usual" the activity at air bases on Crete, saying it was in no way related to developments in the ongoing Iraqi crisis.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said aircraft of foreign countries whose final destination was Cyprus had passed through the airports at Souda and Irakleio.

He stressed that this activity was in no way related to the tension in the Persian Gulf.

Asked about Greece's position on the crisis, Mr. Reppas replied that weapons of mass destruction should not be produced or used, UN Security Council resolutions should be implemented and solutions should be sought through diplomatic channels in order to avert military action.

The government spokesman clarified that Greece had received no US request concerning cooperation over the crisis and Athens had not been asked to provide any facilities or to participate in any such cooperation.

Turkish interest in US-made F-15s, Greece as well

Ankara has shown interest in purchasing F-15E warplanes from the United States and has requested information from the US Air Force on the specific aircraft, according to a report in the latest edition of the defence- related m agazine "Defence News."

The magazine said that Ankara's intention is the result of interest shown by Greece to purchase about 30 fighters of this type.

A Turkish defence ministry official confirmed Turkey's intentions and told "Defence News" that Ankara is "viewing the issue as seriously as the Greeks are. Certain balances must be preserved. If Greece is interested in purchasing the F-15s,then we will also be interested in purchasing two squadrons. And since the US has given initial permission for a possible sale to Greece we do not expect to face problems if we wish to purchase the aircraft."

With a relevant application sent on Feb. 5, Turkey requested that Turkish pilots visit the US to familiarise themselves with the F-15Es and receive relevant technical information.

Turkish warplanes violate Greek airspace

Several Turkish warplanes yesterday violated Greek national airspace and repeatedly infringed on Athens FIR regulations over the Aegean.

According to reports, 18 Turkish F-16s, all armed, entered the Athens FIR between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. without submitting previous flight plans. The Turkish warplanes infringed on flight regulations nine times, and violated Greek national airspace 19 times in the areas between Hios-Lesvos and Lesvos-Limnos.

Violations and infringements also took place outside the areas designated by Turkey for its current aeronautical exercises. In all cases, the Turkish fighters were intercepted by Hellenic Air Force F-16s and Mirage 2000s, while in six cases the intercep tions developed into engagements.

Ciller favoured confrontation with Greece during Imia crisis

Former Turkish prime minister Tansu Ciller and her foreign minister Deniz Baykal were in favour of a military confrontation with Greece during the Imia crisis in late January 1996, then Turkish navy chief Guven Erkaya said during a Turkish television programme yesterday.

Mr. Baykal was in favour of a confrontation from early on in the stand-off, the admiral said in reference to a meeting on Jan. 29, but the idea "caused fear to the others".

He also revealed that Ms Ciller was putting pressure on him to speed up the occupation of the smaller of the two Imia islets - an idea put forward at the meeting by ambassador Inal Batu, head of the foreign ministry department for relations with Greece and Cyprus - in an attempt to create fait accomplis before diplomatic efforts bore fruit. Later, however, when then US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke began his mediation efforts, Ms Ciller asked for a delay in the operation, the admiral said.

"The idea to send marines to the second island reduced the danger of a direct confrontation, Mr. Batu said in the same programme.

Mr. Erkaya added the decision was finalised on Jan. 30, but when Ms Ciller asked for the delay he advised this was dangerous ("we couldn't leave the boys in the water".) The Turkish marines finally reached the island probably after swimming underwater from a nearby Turkish navy vessel.

Holbrooke, who appeared in the same programme, said Ms Ciller was friendly in their first contact ("hello Richard"), but would later not come to the phone.

Turkey's dispute of Greek sovereignty over the Imia islets brought the two countries to the brink of conflict in late January 1996.

Increased domestic participation in defence purchases

The government aims to increase the participation of Greece's defence industry in procurements by the armed forces, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos reiterated yesterday.

Such participation amounted to 400 billion drachmas, or 38 per cent in 1997, he specified.

For 1998, he added, the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB) aimed to eliminate its deficit, after having increased turnover to 49 billion drachmas last year from 31 billion in 1996.

Already, EAB is participating in the upgrading of the Hellenic Air Force's F-4s (Phantoms), is entering the telecommunications sector through the Hermes system for the Hellenic Army, and is involved in an avionics programme for the armed forces' C-130 transport planes.

Gov't says no change in air corridors over Aegean

Three main air corridors within Greek national airspace, which had been temporarily suspended due to the Yugoslav crisis, will soon be brought back into service, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

He also denied that the intergovernmental agency responsible for air corridors, Euro-control, has instructed that additional routes be created outside the Aegean, specifying that for any such changes Athens' agreement was necessary.

The Athens daily 'Eleftherotypia' reported yesterday that relevant decisions will be made at a conference in Antalya, Turkey, at the end of March.

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister on official visit to Athens

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Manh Cam will meet Premier Costas Simitis tomorrow in the framework of talks being held within the framework of bilateral relations between Athens and Hanoi.

Mr. Kam, who is also his country's foreign minister, will meet with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou today.

New civil servants code presented to premier

Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister Alekos Papadopoulos presented the new civil servants code to Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday.

The code contains important innovations concerning civil servants' ranks and the inter-ministerial and disciplinary sectors.

Mr. Papadopoulos said the new code anticipates a mixed rank system (mobile and fixed) in which directors and general directors will be permanent, while mobile ranks will reach the rank of deputy director.

Another innovation concerns the expansion of the implementation of inter- ministerial sectors, starting from certain basic specialities (such as the informatics sector).

Mr. Papadopoulos said regular leave of absence will remain as it is, adding that in the case of special leave (such as pregnancy) the proposals of the ministry's relevant committee, which he will receive today, will apply.

The text of the new code will be sent to the political parties, the Parliamentary Labour Sector of the ruling PASOK party and the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) in the next few days before being forwarded to Parliament.

Archbishop Serapheim released from hospital

Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Serapheim left an Athens hospital at noon yesterday after undergoing kidney dialysis.

Archbishop Serapheim had entered the hospital on Monday to undergo dialysis, to which he has been subjected three times a week in past years. However, a sudden illness was the reason he was subjected to further medical tests.

Provision on seamen's benefits within EU discussed

Seamen working on passenger ships carrying out regular routes between European Union ports will have, regardless of whether they are citizens of EU member-states, the same social benefits anticipated by EU legislation in EU member-states.

This is the focal point of a labour document by the European Commission whose content was discussed in Brussels yesterday by Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis and EU Transport Commissioner Neil Kinnock.

According to reports, the measure is aimed at strengthening employment for EU seamen and regulates conditions concerning the manning of passenger ships carrying out sailings from one EU country to another.

Mr. Kinnock appeared positive to an idea by Greece that the measure should be extended beyond passenger ships carrying out regular sailings between EU countries to cruise ships which employ many people who will benefit from this clause.

WEATHER

Spring-like weather with rising temperatures is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Winds northerly, northwesterly, moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny with temperatures between 6-16C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-15C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.962 Pound sterling 464.990 Cyprus pd 535.680 French franc 46.761 Swiss franc 194.402 German mark 156.776 Italian lira (100) 15.880 Yen (100) 229.797 Canadian dlr. 198.797 Australian dlr. 194.194 Irish Punt 393.923 Belgian franc 7.595 Finnish mark 51.647 Dutch guilder 139.073 Danish kr. 41.134 Swedish kr. 35.037 Norwegian kr. 37.666 Austrian sch. 22.280 Spanish peseta 1.850 Port. Escudo 1.532

(C.E.)


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