Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-07-20
NEWS IN ENGLISH
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
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
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
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
"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
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
Economic and trade cooperation was also discussed, while Mr. Kranidiotis
assured his interlocutors that Greece will soon establish an embassy in
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
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
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
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
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
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
He made the remarks while addressing hundreds of faithful at the Athens
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
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
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