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A.N.A. Bulletin, 23/11/95

From: "Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada" <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No. 748), November 23, 1995

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Commission satisfied with Greek economic performance, drachma's stability

  • [2] Forecasts

  • [3] Premier 'steadily improving', doctors say

  • [4] Hytiris

  • [5] Greece welcomes Dayton agreement to end Bosnian war

  • [6] Stephanopoulos addresses Bulgarian parliament: 'Balkans must cease being field of antagonism'

  • [7] Greek abstention from UN vote of nuclear tests due to EU solidarity, Hytiris says

  • [8] Dimas wins gold for Greece again, breaks world record

  • [9] Trial of Polytechnic vandals set for December 5

  • [10] Korydallos returns to normal operation

  • [11] Bomb explosion in Central Athens

  • [12] Lufthansa regional head rejects criticism of Greek airport safety

  • [13] Joint US-Greek exercise gets underway


  • [1] Commission satisfied with Greek economic performance, drachma's stability

    Brussels, 23/11/1995 (ANA/G. Daratos):

    The European Commission said yesterday it was satisfied with the performance of the Greek economy, noting that the Greek drachma was one of the Community's most stable currencies.

    It noted, however, that inflation, while substantively reduced, was still high in comparison to the average EU inflation.

    The Commission yesterday examined the economic situation in the European Union on the basis of a presentation by commissioner Yves-Thibault de Silguy of the Commission's new economic forecasts and its third annual report on convergence.

    The Commission also registered its predictions on the development of basic macroeconomic indicators in member-states in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

    According to the commissioner, the Finnish mark and the Greek drachma were the two most stable Community currencies during the January-September period this year.

    According to extracts of the report, Greece will succeed in substantively reducing its inflation in 1996, but it will remain at high levels, at about 8 per cent.

    Portugal, Austria, Italy and Greece will have to make greater efforts in 1996 to achieve targets set in their convergence programmes.

    The convergence report shows that countries with historically high inflation rates, such as Greece, were making further inroads into inflation and only those countries whose currencies experienced major devaluations were having to contend either with a temporary spurt in inflation or with a slowdown in the pace of reductions in inflation.

    Although Greece has achieved progress in reducing its inflation, its inflation level continues to be considerably higher than the relevant convergence criterion which is the average between the three best performances plus one-and-a-half percentage points.

    Developments in 1995 budgets give the impression that many member-states, including Greece, appear to achieve their targets of reducing deficits as anticipated by their convergence programmes.

    Greece presents the lowest GDP increase rate (1.7 per cent) in 1995, while the Community average is about 2.7 per cent.

    The increase in the cost per labor unit shows a relevant acceleration in Greece since 1993 which, if related to low productivity, could mean potential price increases and could primarily threaten the achieved reduction in inflation rates.

    Great increases are also being achieved this year in prices of importing products, ranging between five per cent and 10 per cent, although the rate of increase slowed down in Greece and Spain this year.

    The most considerable reductions in state deficits between 1993 and 1995 were estimated as taking place in Sweden, Greece (a reduction of 2.8 percentage units) and Britain.

    Three member-states (Belgium, Greece and Italy) have state debt percentages exceeding the 100 per cent mark of their GDP. But while it decreased in Belgium, it resumed its upward trend in Greece this year following a decrease in 1994, a fact linked to debt management.

    Interest rate payments are equivalent to four or five times the amount of state capital expenditures in Belgium, Greece and Italy.

    Primary surpluses were maintained in member-states where the state debt percentage is very high (Belgium, Greece and Italy).

    The primary surplus in Greece is bigger this year than in 1994. Sweden and Greece were the only two countries with high interest rates which achieved considerable reductions. The interest rates were reduced in Greece by 275 basis points, but interest rates continue to be very high.

    The gap in interest rates in Greece in relation to Germany dropped below 10 per cent, while it was almost 13.5 per cent in early 1994.

    On the question of the relevant criterion on interest rates contained in the Maastricht Treaty, Greece managed to reduce the difference from 11.4 per cent to 8 per cent but it continues to be the country with the biggest divergence.

    Among countries showing a divergence in relation to this criterion for interest rates, only Greece succeeded in achieving considerable pro-gress.

    European Union member-states' currencies slid against the ECU over the first nine months of 1995 with the exception of the Greek drachma, the Portuguese escudo and the Finnish mark.

    The drachma and the mark, in fact, showed improved stability.

    [2] Forecasts

    Athens, 23/11/1995 (ANA):

    Meanwhile, the Commission's autumn estimates on the Greek economy's macro-economic figures for the 1995-1997 were released yesterday. Specifically, the Commission estimates inflation in Greece will fall to 9.2 per cent by year's end, 7.9 per cent in 1996 and 7 per cent in 1997, while convergence programme targets call for 7.9, 6.1 and 3.9 per cent respectively.

    GDP annual growth is pegged at 1.7 per cent this year, 1.9 in 1996 and 2.2 per cent in 1997, while targets stand at 1.2, 1.7 and 2.6 per cent respectively.

    The public deficit as a percentage of GDP is expected to total -9.3 per cent this year, -8.3 in 1996 and -7.3 per cent in 1997. Convergence programme targets for the same years call for -10.7, -7.6 and -4.2 per cent.

    The Commission estimates public debt as a percentage of GDP at 114.4 per cent this year, 114 in 1996 and 113.1 per cent in 1997, while targets call for 115.2, 115.3 and 113.4 per cent respectively.

    In addition, the Commission figures Greece's current account at -2.7 per cent for 1995, -2.9 in 1996 and -3.9 in 1997.

    The annual change in fixed capital investments is projected at 5.4 per cent in 1995, 6.2 in 1996 and 6.9 per cent in 1997.

    Annual increase in employment is estimated at 1 per cent for this year, 1 per cent in 1996 and 1.2 per cent in 1997.

    Commission projections point to the percentage of unemployment among the active population at 8.9 per cent in 1995, 8.9 in 1996 and 8.8 per cent in 1997.

    The latest Commission figures and projections drew a positive response from Greek EU Commissioner for Energy, SMEs and Tourism Christos Papoutsis.

    "References to the Greek economy's convergence are good, within a realistic framework, of course. It is clear that the Greek economy has a large divergence from the economic convergence criteria and should put forth a greater effort to reach them (goals .)," Mr. Papoutsis said, adding: "The Greek economy's significant effort and positive results have, however, been recognized."

    [3] Premier 'steadily improving', doctors say

    Athens, 23/11/1995 (ANA):

    The prime minister's health is steadily improving, a second medical communique from the Onassion Cardiology Centre said yesterday.

    The communique, issued at 8pm last night, was read to waiting reporters by cardiologist Thymios Livanis, a member of the team monitoring the premier's condition.

    Mr. Livanis refused to answer questions.

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos and Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias visited the hospital last night on their return from an official visit to Bulgaria.

    The two men met with the premier at his bedside, at the prime minister's request.

    Government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris, speaking after Mr. Livanis, said the premier had received dozens of telegrams from leaders around the world wishing the premier a speedy recovery.

    A first medical communique read by Onassion deputy director Grigorios Skalkeas at midday said the clinical and laboratory tests showed an improvement in the premier's health.

    Mr. Skalkeas said that Mr. Papandreou's respiratory function, which was of prime interest for the premier's doctors, was being restored and he was now breathing without the aid of support.

    Replying to reporters' questions, Mr. Skalkeas said that the first critical 48 hours had passed and the fact that the prime minister's health was improving allowed his physicians to be optimistic.

    He also clarified that the premier's kidneys were functioning "completely satisfactorily".

    Earlier in the day, Mr. Papandreou's personal physician and Minister of Health Dimitris Kremastinos said the prime minister had spent a quiet night.

    He said that the prime minister's pneumonia was now being treated by a quadruple dose of antibiotics. Mr. Kremastinos said that Mr. Papandreou was kept in a condition of "natural sleep for several hours so that the antibiotics could take effect more effectively", and expressed hope that there would be a successful outcome.

    The prime minister is being regularly visited by his wife Dimitra and his daughter Sophia. Yesterday, several ministers, former PASOK finance minister Dimitris Tsovolas, and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Serapheim visited the hospital.

    [4] Hytiris

    Athens, 23/11/1995 (ANA):

    Government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris told reporters during the day that the task of the government was being performed "as normal" in all sectors.

    "Power is exercised by the government and the prime minister is Andreas Papandreou," he said.

    If there was a need for the Cabinet to be convened, Mr. Hytiris said, this could be done by the minister at the top of the Cabinet hierarchy - Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

    Mr. Hytiris said the issues of the state budget and the premier's presence at the European Union summit next month were "not matters for the present".

    Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos is expected to submit the budget to Parliament next Tuesday, while National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will make an analytic presentation of the government's incomes policy.

    Economic circles said yesterday that through the expedited submission of the budget, the government intended to impress on the markets that its economic policy would not change.

    The same circles expressed the view that despite the premier's illness, the economy had not suffered sudden fluctuations or jolts, and this was apparent in both the money markets and the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).

    The ASE's composite index yesterday recovered by 1.62 per cent, the money market remained stable, no significant exchange outflows were recorded, while interest rates also remained stable after showing a 2 per cent increase Tuesday.

    [5] Greece welcomes Dayton agreement to end Bosnian war

    Athens, 23/11/1995 (ANA):

    Greece yesterday welcomed the agreement reached in Dayton, Ohio aimed at ending three-and-a-half years of war in the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    Press and Media Minister Telemahos Hytiris expressed the government's satisfaction and also the hope that the agreement would lead to lasting peace and co-operation in the Balkans.

    The agreement was reached yesterday by the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia after three weeks of talks at the Wright Patterson air force base in Dayton.

    In Sofia, an ANA dispatch reported Greece's President Kostis Stephanopoulos as saying: "I hope the agreement reached in the US to resolve the Yugoslav issue is actually based on the interests and wishes of the peoples."

    President Stephanopoulos said he hoped the agreement had not resulted from "threats, pressures and sanctions by the powerful of the earth."

    Mr. Stephanopoulos was speaking to the Bulgarian Parliament during a three-day state visit which ended yesterday.

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress issued a press release yesterday stating that it considers the signing of the treaty on Bosnia to be a positive step towards peace in the region.

    The Coalition stressed that new opportunities are being created in the wider Balkan regions and called on the government to exploit the country's geopolitical position and the comparative advantages it possesses in order to promote stability and the mutual co-operation of countries in the region.

    [6] Stephanopoulos addresses Bulgarian parliament: 'Balkans must cease being field of antagonism'

    Sofia, 23/11/1995 (ANA/N. Megadukas, N. Hios):

    In his address to the Bulgarian Parliament at the close of a three-day official visit yesterday, President Kostis Stephanopoulos rejected the view of what he called certain central European and extra-European circles that a new imaginary line ought to be drawn somewhere between central Europe and the Balkans as "inconsistent, culturally unacceptable, historically groundless, and strategically dangerous".

    The peninsula, he said, had to cease being a field of antagonisms between exogenous factors, and for this reason, Greece aimed at the creation of a single Balkan area, which, with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union, will be part of the single European area.

    The president said he believed his visit had contributed to the consolidation of the problem-free relations between the two countries, and reiterated Greece's support to Bulgarian efforts to become a member of the EU.

    He stressed the importance of the construction of the proposed Burgas to Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, and of the Egnatia Highway across northern Greece, with vertical connections to the north, in the securing of better economic terms in the flow of oil to Western Europe, and in the development of the region.

    In a joint press conference with his Bulgarian counterpart Zhelyu Zhelev later, both men hailed the success of the Bosnian peace talks at Dayton, Ohio, and stressed that Greek and Bulgarian positions throughout the war in the former Yugoslavia had been identical, focusing on the need for avoiding the entanglement of other Balkan countries in the conflict.

    The two countries' participation in the reconstruction of the former Yugoslavia was "a new sector for joint Greek-Bulgarian co-operation," said the Greek president.

    Mr. Zhelev pointed out that Greece was Bulgaria's second largest economic partner after Germany, but called for mutuality for the promotion of Bulgarian business activity in Greece.

    "I accept President Zhelev's observations concerning mutuality, and I will be extremely happy when the first Bulgarian bank opens in Greece," said Mr. Stephanopoulos.

    Regarding Mr. Zhelev's observation that Bulgaria had also secured Turkey's consent for entry into NATO, Mr. Stephanopoulos said it was important that Greece and Turkey agreed on this point.

    "It is not Greece's aim to quarrel with Turkey, and I would be happy if we could agree with Turkey in many other matters too," he said.

    According to official diplomatic sources, the two sides will soon proceed to set the date for the signing of the agreements reached on the opening of three new border crossings, the distribution of waters of the river Nestos, and the employment of Bulgarian seasonal workers in Greece.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos and Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias, who accompanied the president on his visit, returned to Athens last night.

    [7] Greek abstention from UN vote of nuclear tests due to EU solidarity, Hytiris says

    Athens, 23/11/1995 (ANA):

    Greece abstained from the recent vote in the UN disarmament committee on a resolution calling for an immediate halt to nuclear tests because France had asked for Community solidarity, government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris said yesterday.

    "Athens has publicly expressed its opposition to the French nuclear tests," he said, adding however that France had called for Community solidarity as Greece had in the case of the embargo against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    "In view of this," Mr. Hytiris continued, "Greece decided to abstain from the vote."

    Asked why Greece showed solidarity when requested, while other Community members do not when called on by Greece, Mr. Hytiris replied:

    "We do not judge the position of other countries. We are interested in Greece's position."

    In last Thursday's vote, 95 countries voted for the resolution, 12 voted against and 45 abstained.

    Earlier, a statement released in Athens by the environmental organization Greenpeace, strongly criticized what it called Greece's "unacceptable" stance in abstaining from the vote.

    The organization accused the Greek delegation at the UN of ignoring the "clearly expressed opposition" of public opinion and the political world to the continuation of French nuclear testing and demanded an explanation from the foreign ministry.

    "More than 200,000 Greek citizens, over 190 municipalities, all the political parties and the entire third summer session of Parliament stated in writing their opposition to the nuclear tests," Greenpeace said, adding that Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias himself had declared Greece's opposition.

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress also expressed their condemnation of another French nuclear test on Tuesday and accused the Chirac government of ignoring the international outcry and the UN's recent decision against such policies.

    The Coalition characterized the Greek government's stance at the UN as unacceptable, and said that "playing the role of Pontius Pilate" was an insult to the intelligence of the Greek people, facilitated French President Jacques Chirac's plans and expose d the country internationally.

    [8] Dimas wins gold for Greece again, breaks world record

    Canton, China 23/11/1995 (ANA/Reuters):

    Greek weightlifting champion Pirros Dimas broke the world record in the clean and jerk on his way to winning gold in the 83 kg class at the World Weightlifting Championships yesterday.

    Dimas lifted 212.5 kilos, breaking his own previous world record by one-and-a-half kilos.

    Dimas won the overall gold, lifting a total of 385 kilos, the same as the heavier German Mark Huster. The Greek also won the silver medal in the snatch with 172.5 kilos, while Huster won the gold with 175 kilos.

    Sports Under-secretary George Lianis sent a congratulatory telegram to the new world record holder, stating that "as a Greek, I now hope you will turn towards the Atlanta Olympics, at the golden centenary, reminding everyone how great this small country is. Congratulations to your coach and to the whole team."

    [9] Trial of Polytechnic vandals set for December 5

    Athens, 23/11/1995 (ANA):

    The trial of 44 out of the 130 youths arrested last Saturday morning for involvement in the Polytechnic riots was postponed yesterday until December 5.

    The new date was set due to the absence of many prosecution witnesses, particularly police officers. Defence lawyers had also requested a postponement as they had not had time to study their client's briefs.

    Security measures at court yesterday were particularly strict as about 50 to 60 relatives and friends of the accused gathered outside, shouting slogans against journalists and the police.

    Meanwhile, Education Minister George Papandreou has requested from the authorities of the Athens Polytechnic and the Higher School of Fine Art a written account of the events and damages caused in the Polytechnic last Friday, as well as information regarding actions taken by the institutions' authorities.

    Sources at the ministry said the request was in line with Mr. Papandreou's duties as competent minister for higher education institutes.

    Members of the Athens Polytechnic Senate convened yesterday to discuss the matter of guarding the Polytechnic building among other things.

    Senate members commented on Mr. Papandreou's action, stating that "the education ministry has not requested a defence of actions. It is asking for details about the way in which events developed."

    [10] Korydallos returns to normal operation

    Athens, 23/11/1995 (ANA):

    Security has been fully reinstated at Athens' maximum-security prison in the western suburb of Korydallos after the recent six-day inmate riot.

    Repair work to the facility has begun and measures are being taken for a reduction in the prison population and an improvement in inmate's living conditions.

    All minors have been transported to other prisons for the damage in their wing to be repaired.

    The damage is being repaired by correctional facility staff and teams of inmates.

    The justice ministry announced yesterday that the prisoner's telephone network had been fully repaired and all areas of the prison are receiving electricity and water.

    Measures taken for the improvement of living conditions within the prison include an increase in spending on inmates' food. A "health card" programme is being implemented and sanitary inspections are being carried out on the prison to monitor the prisoners' health programme.

    [11] Bomb explosion in Central Athens

    Athens, 23/11/1995 (ANA):

    Two people working near Barclays Bank were slightly injured when an explosion occurred at 11:20 last night in the Bank's basement, on the corner of Stadiou and Kolokotroni streets in central Athens. Material damage was caused and the area was cordoned off by police. Explosives experts and police officials conducted an investigation into the causes of the explosion. Police sources stated that it was unlikely the blast had been caused by terrorist activity.

    [12] Lufthansa regional head rejects criticism of Greek airport safety

    Athens, 23/11/1995 (ANA):

    Lufthansa Airlines' new regional director for southeast Europe, Josef Bogdanski, yesterday rejected recent allegations by German and Danish pilots questioning the safety of Greek airports.

    "Lufthansa would not be flying to Greece if there was even the slightest danger for its passengers," Mr. Bogdanski told a press conference on the assumption of his new duties, replacing Hans-Peter Euler, who was transferred to Paris as director of the France-Benelux region.

    Mr. Bogdanski, an economist and until recently passenger and freight manager in Israel, attributed the recent flight delays not only to the Eurocontrol system but also to congestion of the air corridors over Greece.

    "The delays are also due to the fact that many airplanes which do not land in Greece nevertheless fly over Greece headed southwards for other destinations," he explained. The 15-member European organization for the protection of air navigation's

    Eurocontrol system, operated from Brussels, is an effort to alleviate congestion in EU skies that causes frequent delays for air travelers.

    Control of all Olympic Airways flights through Eurocontrol went into effect earlier this month, and Transport and Communications Minister Evangelos Venizelos warned that delays were likely until rescheduling and planning of fights was fully coordinated by a target date of March 31, 1996.

    Outlining Lufthansa's activities, Mr. Bogdanski said that the German carrier had increased its weekly flights between Greece and Germany by four to a total of 46, against 42 in the same period last year.

    "This proves that Lufthansa attributes great importance to the Greek market," he said.

    Parallel to the Frankfurt flights, he added, there was a daily flight to Munich and five weekly flights to Dusseldorf out of Athens, as well as daily flights from Thessaloniki to Frankfurt and Munich and a weekly flight from Iraklion to Frankfurt.

    The Lufthansa Group increased sales by 10.3 per cent and number of passengers by 8.9 per cent in the first three quarters of the year, while air freight rose by 11.7 per cent.

    With financial results for the third quarter of the year due later this month, the Lufthansa Group recorded a profit of DM189 million before taxes in the first half of the year.

    [13] Joint US-Greek exercise gets underway

    Athens, 23/11/1995 (ANA):

    A joint exercise involving the land, sea and air forces of Greece and the US, code-named "Megas Alexandros '95", started yesterday in the Volos, Stefanovikiou, Skyros and Ayios Efstratios regions.

    The exercise involves marine, frogmen and parachute units, a frigate, six tank carriers, two vehicle carriers, two gunboats and three small vessels, army helicopters and 21 warplanes including F-16s, Mirage-2000s and F-4s, as well as a C-130 transport p lane for parachutist landings.

    The US is participating with two landing craft, Shreveport and Whitbey Island, one platoon of frogmen, 700 marines, four Chinook helicopters and four small vessels.

    The last phase of the exercise, due to take place November 27-29, includes an amphibious operation in Skyros and an amphibious operation in Ayios Efstratios.

    Russia's air force chief will pay an official visit to Greece between November 28 and December 1.

    During his visit to Greece, the Russian official will hold talks with his Greek counterpart Athanassios Tzogannis and will visit Air Force units and archaeological sites.

    End of English language section.

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