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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-07-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 24/07/1998 (ANA)


  • Government council discusses armaments procurements programme
  • Fires continue to rage throughout the country
  • Commissioner congratulates Greece on fund absorption
  • Symposium on Symi begins on Sunday
  • Athens criticises US policy vis-a-vis Cyprus problem
  • Simitis announces 100 billion drachmas for young farmers
  • IOBE report says structural changes proceeding rapidly
  • Athens business group says EMU entry feasible in 2001
  • Treasury bills to be auctioned Monday
  • Post office's board recommends hefty rate increases
  • Australian opposition leader criticises Turkey, Denktash on Cyprus
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Government council discusses armaments procurements programme

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today announced the government's decision to commission the building of four gunboats and three submarines at Hellenic Shipyards - Scaramanga.

Speaking to reporters after a lengthy meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Tsohatzopoulos said the programme currently under way at the Scaramanga naval base for the modernisation of submarines already in service would continue.

He said Elefsina Shipyards would be commissioned to build a fuel tanker and three missile boats for the Hellenic Navy.

KYSEA will meet again in September to take final decisions on most of the major procurements, Tsohatzopoulos said.

Fires continue to rage throughout the country

Fires continued to rage in various locations around the country today, fanned in many cases by strong winds which have during the past week impeded efforts by firefighters, the army and local residents to limit the destruction caused to forest land and semi-residential areas.

One of the most difficult blazes to control at present is the fire near Mt. Olympus, due to the inaccessibility of the area being destroyed.

Firemen and forest rangers have to walk for three hours to reach the main front of the fire, with exhaustion then taking its toll in efforts to control the blaze.

Two fire-fighting aircraft are also taking part in the operation.

Commissioner congratulates Greece on fund absorption

Greece was at a "good point" regarding absorption of European Union funds, visiting European Commissioner for regional policy, structural funds and the cohesion fund Monika Wulf-Mathies, said today.

Greece had secured approximately 70 percent of the EU funds earmarked for the country for public works projects, while payments already made were somewhere in the middle, Wolf-Mathies said, adding that those numbers were "a great success".

She told reporters after a meeting with national economy and finance minister Yannos Papantoniou that the rate of development in Greece had accelerated and was currently at 3.5 percent, as the structural funds had contributed to an increase in the growth rate calculated at 0.9 percent.

Symposium on Symi begins on Sunday

Prominent politicians, academics and representatives of the business world from 20 countries of Europe, the United States and Australia will be attending the "Symposium of Symi" which begins on the Aegean island on Sunday.

The symposium, organised by the "Andreas Papandreou" Institute, will be held from July 26 to August 1 and will focus on regional problems of the European Union, monetary unification, relations between Europe and the USA, regional cooperation and globalisation of markets.

The symposium will be coordinated by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

Among those attending will be Albanian Foreign Minister Pascal Milo, Russia's Minister for Light Industry Irena Hakamada, Swedish Commerce Minister Leif Pagortsky, British Eurodeputy Pauline Green, Poland's former premier Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz and World Bank senior executive Alex Rondos.

Athens criticises US policy vis-a-vis Cyprus problem

Greece yesterday expressed its dissatisfaction over statements by a US White House official regarding the Cyprus issue, saying they were "unacceptable".

"The Cyprus problem is one of invasion and occupation of a large part of the island republic by the Turkish army," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

"This is what is being accepted by the international community, and what constitutes the basis of United Nations' resolutions and its framework for a settlement of the problem," he added.

Mr. Reppas was commenting on statements by White House spokesman Mike McCurry that the Cyprus issue was a problem of "conflict" between the two communities on the island.

In Washington on Wednesday Mr. McCurry was invited to clarify whether the Cyprus problem was one of "invasion" or of "conflict" between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island.

He replied that the issue was one of "conflict," underlining that this was the "right definition".

"If there is a conflict it is between the rational and irrational, justice and lawlessness, legality and tyranny. It is a conflict between 'Attila' (the codename of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus) and the international community, in which the United States also belongs," Mr. Reppas said.

"The government wants to believe that the United States does not wish to take the place of the United Nations or to monopolise the international community's interest in efforts to settle the Cyprus problem," he said.

Replying to a reporter's question, Mr. Reppas said that US State Department special coordinator for Cyprus, Thomas Miller, was not scheduled to meet with Greek government officials in the near future. Mr. Miller arrived in Cyprus yesterday afternoon for talks with the island republic's government.

In a related development, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos harshly criticised the US administration yesterday over its stance regarding the Cyprus problem, according to reports.

The Greek FM said that US President Bill Clinton had made several promises during his pre-election campaigns regarding a solution to the 24-year Cyprus problem, none of which have today been fulfilled. Reports said Mr. Pangalos referred to a "grand lie" on the part of the US administration, adding that Washington had in the past exercised pressures on Turkey, which however, proved fruitless. He said the US has now switched its pressure towards Greece.

Simitis announces 100 billion drachmas for young farmers

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday announced a national policy for young farmers in a visit to Nea Epidavros, citing tax exemptions and deductions, favourable terms for loans and a turn to rural areas with new cultivations.

More than 100 billion drachmas a year will be provided by the state budget for the implementation of measures for young farmers, aimed at attracting 50,000 young farmers to rural areas, he said.

The announcement was made by Mr. Simitis in a speech in the village of Dimaina, Epidavros last night, where he arrived at the head of a wide- ranging government delegation.

Outlining government policy for young farmers, he said that the amount of 100 billion drachmas does not include European Union participation, which corresponds to about 20 per cent of total expenditures, as well as losses for the state budget which will result from the implementation of tax measures and the other benefits.

IOBE report says structural changes proceeding rapidly

In its third report on the Greek economy, the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) ascertained that structural changes are proceeding to a large degree according to the government's programme, contributing to economic effectiveness and development.

The report said that it is imperative that the budget deficit and public debt be reduced to levels that are far lower than those anticipated by the Maastricht Treaty. Otherwise, it added, the vicious circle of high interest rates might lead to speculati on against the drachma.

Once again fiscal policy shoulders the burden of achieving a decrease in inflation to meet Maastricht criteria with stabilisation of the drachma parity, and specifically through the maintenance of high nominal interest rates and a low rate of monetary expansion.

However, the report said this policy, which in essence does not differ greatly from the scrapped "hard drachma" policy, entails dangers as progress is not achieved in decreasing the state deficit and the public debt.

Among others, some of the ascertainments contained in the report are that there is a relatively high development rate, a small decrease in inflation, an increase in real salaries and fiscal discipline.

Athens business group says EMU entry feasible in 2001

Greece's entry into economic and monetary union in 2001 is feasible if the government avoids backtracking and compromise in its plan to restructure the economy, the Athens Chamber of Trade and Industy (EBEA) said yesterday.

In its six-monthly report on the economy, EBEA listed the areas in which the government had to remain consistent with its policy statements.

The areas are as follows:

Fiscal adjustment, with special emphasis on curbing public spending
Structural changes in the sectors of electricity production, telecoms, air and road transport, banking and privatisation
Inflation, with emphasis on boosting competition
Deregulation of the labour market
Streamlining the social insurance system

EBEA's president Yiannis Papathanasiou told reporters that 1999 would be a critical year for the economy, as its performance would determine if and when the country joined European economic and monetary union. The government has said it wants entry by January 1, 2001.

Treasury bills to be auctioned Monday

The finance ministry on Monday will tender 180 billion drachmas of 12-month treasury bills in electronic form.

The issue and settlement date in the competitive price auction for primary dealers will be July 29, the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

Non-competitive bids will also be accepted by primary and ordinary dealers for up to 20 percent of the amount of T-bills to be auctioned, the statement said.

Post office's board recommends hefty rate increases

The Hellenic Post Offices' (ELTA) administration is proposing to the government average increases of 6.9 per cent,which in certain categories of tariffs will reach 80 per cent.

The tariff increases will be implemented as of Sept. 1,while the administrative council's decision was taken on May 29 and is expected to be ratified by the prices and incomes committee.

To date,post office tariffs were estimated in accordance with their weight, but now it is expected to be estimated in accordance with the weight and the dimensions.

Concequently,a letter weighing 20 grams will cost 100 drachmas with a smaller envelope,while with a bigger envelope having dimensions of 165x245 mm and 305x381 mm it will now cost 140 drachmas instead of 100.

Bigger and more bulky letters will cost 180 drachmas.

Australian opposition leader criticises Turkey, Denktash on Cyprus

South Australia opposition Labor Party leader Mike Rann has addressed a letter to the Commonwealth leadership seeking their active support in placing the Cyprus problem as a keynote issue on next year's Commonwealth summit agenda.

Specifically, Mr. Rann sent the letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Australian PM John Howard and South African President Nelson Mandela, since the summit will be held in South Africa.

The opposition leader noted in his letter that Turkey continues to defy international law and a series of United Nations' resolutions on the Cyprus problem.

He added that "it is quite clear that Turkey is determined to frustrate moves by Britain and the United States to negotiate a peaceful and just solution to the Cyprus problem."

Furthermore, he said " whenever progress is made the government of Turkey and the Denktash regime take action to torpedo any serious moves toward a resolution of the problem."

Finally, Mr. Rann noted that it is important for the Commonwealth to show solidarity toward a member-state, thus asserting its relevance in world affairs, as it did on the apartheid issue.


The forecast for today is hot with temperatures ranging from 19-37 in the Ionian and mainland and 23-32 on the islands. Athens will be fine with moderate to strong winds, 24-36. Thessaloniki will be the same with temperatures of 21-35.


Thursday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 294.971 British pound 484.552 Japanese yen (100) 207.923 French franc 49.096 German mark 164.622 Italian lira (100) 16.684 Irish Punt 414.1600 Belgian franc 7.982 Finnish mark 54.163 Dutch guilder 145.998 Danish kr. 43.188 Austrian sch. 23.391 Spanish peseta 1.939 Swedish kr. 37.061 Norwegian kr. 38.946 Swiss franc 194.720 Port. Escudo 1.610 Aus. dollar 181.635 Can. dollar 197.210 Cyprus pound 561.472


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