Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-07-24
NEWS IN ENGLISH
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
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
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
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
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
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
"The Cyprus problem is one of invasion and occupation of a large part of
the island republic by the Turkish army," government spokesman Dimitris
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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