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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


ATHENS, GREECE, 20/07/1998 (ANA)


  • Ground-breaking ceremony for Rio-Antirrio Bridge
  • Athens welcomes creation of an Int'l Criminal Court
  • Kranidiotis' talks with Uzbekistan leadership
  • Albanian press articles focus on Pangalos visit to Tirana
  • Greece rallies for more EU funds for renewable energy
  • Stephanopoulos inaugurates conference of Achaia expatriates
  • Best bid for Softex announced by gov't
  • Heavy road death toll
  • Tsohatzopoulos says S-300 furor a 'smokescreen'
  • Synaspismos, DHKKI comment on anniversary of Cyprus invasion
  • Archbishop Christodoulos on Cyprus
  • Noted singer Dantonaki dies
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Ground-breaking ceremony for Rio-Antirrio Bridge

A ground-breaking ceremony was held yesterday to mark the beginning of construction of a bridge linking the Peloponnese to mainland Greece and slash travelling time for the two million vehicles crossing the Rio- Antirrio strait each year.

Attending the ceremony in Antirrio was President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis, as well as a number of government ministers. Speakers at the ceremony hailed the project as crucial for the development of we stern Greece. The bridge will drastically reduce travelling time, become a transport hub for all national roads and is linked with all the region's infrastructure projects.

"This is a project of major national significance," President Stephanopoulos said.

Mr. Simitis said the bridge was an example of what could be done by joint efforts and goals.

Construction of the bridge by a French-Greek consortium is due to soon begin as detailed engineering and underwater drilling that commenced in October 1996 has now been completed.

Budgeted at about 230 billion drachmas, the Rio-Antirrio bridge will have two traffic lanes in each direction and one emergency lane. Its length is 2.5 kilometres and width 25 metres. Its construction will create about 1, 000 new jobs.

The bridge will eliminate the disruption and cut travelling time from 45 minutes to five minutes. More than two million vehicles cross the Rio- Antirrio strait each year.

Scheduled to open to traffic in 2004, the bridge was incorporated into the trans-European transport network in 1994. It ranks among the European Union's 14 top priority projects.

The project is co-financed, with the state footing about 70 billion drachmas of the cost and the consortium 17 billion drachmas from its equity capital. The group is securing the remainder in the form of a loan from the European Investment Bank.

The Gefyra consortium comprises GTM International, GTM Batiments et Travaux Publics and Dyckerhoff und Widmann. Greek firms in the group are Volos Engineering Company, Elliniki Technodomiki, Proodeftiki, KI Sarantopoulos, Athina, and Joannou & Paraskeva ides of Cyprus.

The consortium will operate the bridge for 42 years before handing it over to the state.

Athens welcomes creation of an Int'l Criminal Court

Greece yesterday welcomed the creation of an International Criminal Court (ICC) to try the most serious of war crimes, calling it a major victory.

A statute establishing the ICC was overwhelmingly adopted late Saturday night by 120 votes to seven against, with 21 abstentions at the end of a five-week United Nations conference in the Italian capital.

The ICC is being set up to try genocide,war crimes,crimes against humanity and aggression.

"The creation of this court is a triumph for the international community because it not only consolidates international justice but substantially strengthens it in particularly sensitive areas in a manner which for decades has, for the international community, been just a dream," Greece's representative at the conference, foreign ministry secretary-general for European affairs, Stelios Perrakis, told the ANA.

An important innovation, Mr. Perrakis said, is the way in which proceedings will be initiated before the ICC.

"Another significant success," Mr. Perrakis continued, "is that despite the aims of many countries, the court will not be subject to the Security Council, it will operate quite independently.

"Greece was among the countries which participated in the group of states that shaped the principles now contained in the statute.

The 18-judge tribunal is not expected to start functioning for several years, since ratification by 60 countries is first required.

Kranidiotis' talks with Uzbekistan leadership

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis concluded a visit to Uzbekistan on Friday, confirming the very good level of relations between Athens and Tashkent.

Mr. Kranidiotis held talks in Tashkent with Uzbekistani Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, as well as with Interior Minister S. Moustafa on issues of bilateral and international concern, such as cooperation between the two countries in international or ganisations (UN, NATO, EU, etc), the situation in Central Asia, Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem.

Economic and trade cooperation was also discussed, while Mr. Kranidiotis assured his interlocutors that Greece will soon establish an embassy in Tashkent.

Mr. Kamilov underlined the very good relations existing between the two countries and stressed his satisfaction over the constructive position of Athens on the effort to upgrade his country's relations with the EU. He also assured Mr. Krani diotis that his government has a positive attitude towards Greece's candidacy as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council over the 1999-2000 period.

Mr. Kranidiotis has already arrived in the People's Republic of China for talks with the Chinese leadership.

Albanian press articles focus on Pangalos visit to Tirana

Several press articles here yesterday focused on today's visit to Albania by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, stressing that the visit is taking place at a time when relations between the two neighbours are at the best possible level.

The above observation also constitutes Mr. Pangalos' position, as expressed in an nd for improvement in sectors sought by the two sides," he said.

Referring to Albanian PM Fatos Nano, Mr. Pangalos said that he is considered pro-European, favouring progress and a moderniser who is constantly making efforts to lead Albania into the Euro-Atlantic family, adding that Greece, along with the internation al community, is closely watching developments in the region.

Referring to the Greek minority in Albania, he said that it is participating on an equal footing in Albania's political, economic and social life.

"The issue of the minority's education no longer has the dimension it had in the past. The main problem is its qualitative improvement and we are working productively for this," he said.

Greece rallies for more EU funds for renewable energy

Greece wants to see more European Union funding for renewable energy, a greater emphasis on sustainable development and the adoption of EU environmental standards by countries seeking to join the 15-nation bloc, a government official said yesten Graz, Austria that renewable energy should be funded from structural funds, beyond two existing pilot programmes for the sector.

Greece had set a target of increasing the use of renewable energy to 10 percent in 2010 from the current 5.2 per cent in an attempt to approach an overall EU goal of 12 per cent, Mr. Beriatos said.

The EU should also endorse funds for research programmes, development, and information to the public, he said.

Stephanopoulos inaugurates conference of Achaia expatriates

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Saturday inaugurated in Patra the first international conference of expatriates from Achaia.

Mr. Stephanopoulos requested of participants to take an active part in the political life of their new homes around the world.

Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou represented Prime Minister Costas Simitis, while Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras also addressed the conference.

Best bid for Softex announced by gov't

The multinational firm Lockridge has placed the highest bid for purchasing the Softex paper mill, according to the development ministry.

Conditions set by the foreign company are considered satisfactory, both by employees and the state. Bids made by all companies were examined by a committee, which considered the Lockridge bid the most favourable.

Meanwhile, the president of the Drama Labour Centre, Dimitris Galanopoulos, said that "according to my information, the Lockridge company made the best offer from all the other prospective buyers. Specifically, conditions offered by the company to the Hellenic state are included which provide a guarantee for the employees' future..."

The paper mill in Drama currently employs 470 people.

Heavy road death toll

A total of 26 people were killed and 336 injured, 41 of them seriously, in 256 traffic accidents around the country from Friday afternoon until early yesterday afternoon. Police were reportedly taking urgent measures late yesterday afternoon to facilita te the return of holidaymakers.

Tsohatzopoulos says S-300 furor a 'smokescreen'

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday that the furor over the deployment of the Russian-made S-300 missiles on Cyprus was a smokescreen to divert attention from the essence of the problem, namely, the invasion and continued occupa tion of a third of the island republic by Turkish troops.

Speaking in Hania, Crete, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the issue was "talk for the sake of talking".

"Turkey does not want to discuss the essence of the issue because it knows it will be led to prospects which are different from those it had planned when it invaded 25 years ago: It wanted and wants the legalisation of the status quo," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

With Cyprus's European Union accession talks under way, he added, a new prospect has opened and Turkey now is reacting as a destabilising factor in the region. However, Greece and Cyprus are in a position to meet any threat, he said, adding:

"What we propose is: dialogue, peaceful rapprochement, inclusion of the whole of the Republic of Cyprus in the European Union, so that we can open the road to resolution and improvement of relations with Turkey, as well as Turkey's with the European Union."

Synaspismos, DHKKI comment on anniversary of Cyprus invasion

In announcements regarding the 24th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) said the Cyprus issue is at a crucial turning point.

They added that lack of will on the part of the international community for a just solution to the problem and the restoration of the human rights of Cypriot Hellenism is being confirmed.

Synaspismos said that the governments of Greece and Cyprus must actively intervene for progress in intercommunal talks in the framework of the UN which will allow for peaceful cohabitation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

DHKKI said that plans for a confederation being promoted by the major powers of the west, refusing to face the Cyprus issue as a problem of invasion and occupation of an independent and sovereign state, constitute a "closure" and not a just and viable solution.

Archbishop Christodoulos on Cyprus

Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos stressed yesterday that "nobody speaks about the issue of Cyprus, but the Church has a voice and will speak."

He made the remarks while addressing hundreds of faithful at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral.

In addition, by decision of the Holy Synod, prayers were read out at all the churches in the country in memory of those killed during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

"Where is the civilised world which should be continuously concerned over a cold-blooded crime? Where are the people who usually protest over human rights? We have a crime here before which most people remain silent. But the Church will not remain silent. It will not remain silent both in Cyprus and in Greece," he said.

"This silence which constitutes an international conspiracy is something intolerable which has lasted for 20 whole years and 24 whole years in an inhuman anxiety. We pray not to ever forget Greek Cyprus," he added.

Noted singer Dantonaki dies

Noted Greek singer Flery Dantonaki died early Saturday after a long bout with cancer.

Dantonaki was among the favourite singers of late composer Manos Hatzidakis.

According to the internationally acclaimed composer, Dantonaki was "unprecedented...She does not think about the public. She thinks about the absolute control of her voice and offers herself entirely to this pursuit of perfection."

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos also praised the performer, adding that her funeral will be paid by the ministry.


Hot, sunny weather is forecast for today. Temperatures will range from 18C- 36C in the west, 17C-34C on the rest of the mainland, and 21C-31C in the islands. Athens will be sunny with temperatures at 22C-34C. The same is forecast for Thessaloniki with temperatures at 20C-31C.


Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 294.743 British pound 482.945 Japanese yen (100) 210/949 French franc 49.118 German mark 164.771 Italian lira (100) 16.699 Irish Punt 414.160 Belgian franc 7.984 Finnish mark 54.191 Dutch guilder 146.057 Danish kr. 43.221 Austrian sch. 23.416 Spanish peseta 1.939 Swedish kr. 37.133 Norwegian kr. 39.035 Swiss franc 195.037 Port. Escudo 1.609 Aus. dollar 184.854 Can. dollar 198.737 Cyprus pound 561.968


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