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A.N.A. Bulletin, 28/11/95

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No. 752), November 28, 1995

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Slight improvement in premier's condition after sudden deterioration

  • [2] Gonzalez drops Athens from EU tour, to meet Papoulias in Barcelona

  • [3] Central bank notes economic progress, stresses efforts must be maintained

  • [4] Budget

  • [5] PASOK executive confident premier will be back at helm soon

  • [6] Papoulias welcomes Barcelona meeting as continuation of Greek Euro-Mediterranean ties initiative

  • [7] ND criticizes gov't preparation for Euro-Mediterranean meeting

  • [8] Stephanopoulos to meet with Mitsotakis today

  • [9] George Papandreou to attend OECD meeting

  • [10] Russians discuss Greek community's problems

  • [11] News in Brief

  • [12] Speakers at annual HACC conference stress fiscal discipline, growth the targets for Greece

  • [13] Santer

  • [14] GSEE against privatization of National Bank, OTE

  • [15] Evert

  • [16] Vartholomeos inaugurates church conference

  • [17] Tsohatzopoulos addresses ADEDY conference

  • [18] ND discusses economy, budget

  • [19] 80 billion allocated to restore historical buildings

  • [20] Israel hosts 'Greek Products Month'

  • [21] EMU: January 1, 1999 provisionally set for launch


  • [1] Slight improvement in premier's condition after sudden deterioration

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, hospitalized for a lung infection at the Onassion Cardiology Centre underwent dialysis yesterday evening, after a blood transfusion presented problems in breathing, with repercussions in the renal function.

    A medical communique read by Onassion deputy director Grigoris Skalkeas at 00:50 this morning said the process of dialysis had taken place normally, and there was a small improvement in the patient's breathing and renal functions.

    He added the treatment had been necessitated due to a rare reaction to blood transfusion, necessitated by a very low haematocrit after a week's hospitalization.

    "There is no need for a second transfusion at this moment," Mr. Skalkeas said, but did not rule out such an eventuality, because as he said, Mr. Papandreou's condition remained difficult.

    He added that dialysis did not constitute an adverse factor in treatment, the crucial aim being to improve the patient's breathing. He also said all necessary efforts were being made to improve the renal function, and bring it to a satisfactory level.

    "We are continuing to monitor his vital organs - lungs, heart and kidneys, the functioning of which is stable," Mr. Skalkeas said earlier in the day.

    Asked whether the fact that doctors had been invited from abroad meant that additional health problems had arisen which Greek doctors were unable to tackle, Mr. Skalkeas was categorical in stating that "although the foreign doctors are participating in the (medical) consultations and agree with us, they cannot offer anything beyond what we have already done."

    Replying to other questions, Mr. Skalkeas said he believed that Mr. Papandreou's health would revert to its previous condition before admission to hospital last Monday and "therefore he will be able to perform his duties."

    "Of course he will have to heed our advice, as is the case with all our patients," Mr. Skalkeas added. Asked after the briefing by a reporter in the corridor whether he was telling the whole truth about Mr. Papandreou's health, Mr. Skalkeas replied:

    "Honesty is the best form of diplomacy."

    [2] Gonzalez drops Athens from EU tour, to meet Papoulias in Barcelona

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    Government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris announced yesterday that Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, currently the president of European Union, would not be visiting Athens as part of his tour of the capitals of member states.

    Instead, there will be a meeting with Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias, who is in Barcelona for the Euro-Mediterranean conference, he said. Mr. Hytiris said it had not been decided who would represent Greece at the Madrid European Union summit, adding that "one way or the other, the prime minister will certainly be asked".

    He said Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller would not be taking part in the summit, "not even in the enlarged meeting of the '15' with the countries of central and eastern Europe".

    "An official invitation has not been extended to Ms Ciller. If there is a meeting, it will be between Ms Ciller and the Spanish presidency," he added.

    [3] Central bank notes economic progress, stresses efforts must be maintained

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    The continuing drop in inflation and the accelerated recovery of economic activity "are mainly due to the economic policy being followed," the Bank of Greece said yesterday in its monthly economic bulletin.

    According to the central bank, the government's economic policy had resulted in "the lessening of inflationary pressures, a drop in interest rates and an improvement in the business climate."

    The bulletin stressed, however, that the battle against inflation must be continued on all fronts, given that inflation in Greece is about five percentage points higher than the European Union average.

    The central bank forecast that inflation would be running at approximately 8 per cent at the end of the year.

    The bulletin also contained optimistic forecasts about private investments in 1996, stressing that the lower interest rates would contribute to an increase in profits and add strength to businesses' investment plans.

    In contrast, the central bank said that greater efforts should be made to speed up the rate of absorption of EU funds.

    On the credit front, the bulletin said that loans extended by commercial banks to undertakings and consumers had increased by 576.6 billion drachmas or 14.6 per cent between January and August compared to the same eight-month period last year.

    This increase in credit expansion was mainly attributed to loans in foreign exchange and consumer loans.

    More specifically, bank loans to consumers in the form of consumer loans and credit card transactions were 97 billion drachmas higher between January and August, compared to the same period of 1994.

    By comparison, housing loans granted by mortgage banks rose by just 42 billion drachmas between January-August 1995, compared to a 41 billion drachma increase in the same eight-month period last year.

    [4] Budget

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    This year's state budget will produce small divergences compared to initial predictions.

    The economic bulletin predicted that the excess amount of the budget deficit will reach 0.5 per cent of GDP at the end of the year.

    This will be the result of a lag in regular budget revenues. On the other hand, it is assessed that expenditures will not ultimately differ from amounts set out in the budget.

    It was noted that considerable progress has been achieved in state finances, but progress remains vulnerable and for this reason "it is necessary to intensify efforts in the direction of fiscal adjustment."

    [5] PASOK executive confident premier will be back at helm soon

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    The PASOK Executive Bureau, meeting yesterday under the chairmanship of party secretary Costas Skandalidis, expressed its confidence that Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou would overcome his current health problems, and undertake, with the party's institutional organs, all necessary initiatives to safeguard the implementation of the government's programme and the party's victory at the next election.

    "Our first priority is the maintenance of political stability, the promotion and consolidation of the government's work, the solution of the critical problems facing the country ... we consider, at the least, irresponsible the stand of all those monotonously calling for early elections," said a statement after the meeting.

    The meeting took place in an atmosphere of added optimism following the medical bulletin on the premier's health issued at midday.

    Mr. Skandalidis expressed confidence that the prime minister would recover soon, and added that discussion had not at all touched upon his succession, centering instead on the present and future political planning of the party.

    He said all prominent party members agreed that there should be joint political action, and that the rallying together of all members and local party organizations throughout the country was obvious during this latest period.

    He referred to positive developments in the economy, and described as "irresponsible" speculation regarding early elections on the part of the main opposition, including New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert, as it was capable of contributing to a climate of instability, and as potentially damaging to national interests.

    Mr. Skandalidis said the only outstanding issue was the recent postponement of the fifth Central Committee meeting due to the prime minister's illness, and that it would be held concurrently with the sixth, with the prime minister's participation, tackling political and organizational matters of the party.

    Irrespective of the premier's health, he said, which was of primary concern, the institutional organs of the party would assume their full role.

    In reply to a question on whether the issue of the succession to the prime minister ought to be put, if necessary, for consideration to the parliamentary party, Executive Bureau member and European commissioner Christos Papoutsis said what was of paramount importance was the need for the continuation of current policy on the economy and foreign affairs, which were both on a good course.

    "This has not come about by accident, but with great efforts on the part of the government and a lot of sacrifices on the part of the people," he said.

    [6] Papoulias welcomes Barcelona meeting as continuation of Greek Euro-Mediterranean ties initiative

    Barcelona, 28/11/1995 (ANA/T. Antonopoulos):

    Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias yesterday welcomed the first concrete attempt to forge ties between the European Union and the Mediterranean.

    "We must all salute the beginning of co-operation between the European Union and Mediterranean countries, but with the wish that it will not just remain a proclamation of principles of Barcelona," Mr. Papoulias said.

    Noting that the idea for the Barcelona Euro-Mediterranean meeting was born of the 1994 Corfu summit, he said the two-day conference was expected to develop practical measures.

    In addition to the 15 EU member states, 12 non-EU countries are taking part in the conference which is being held within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean initiative, which constitutes the continuation of an initiative undertaken by the Greek EU presidency in 1994.

    "Some are less enthusiastic because the Mediterranean may be a bit far for them, but the majority of the European Union members are definitely interested in the Barcelona summit," he said.

    He noted that some non-EU Mediterranean countries fear new "horizontal programmes" may gradually replace the bilateral relations each country has with the European Union.

    Certain important bilateral matters remain open, including Mediterranean countries' request for their agricultural produce to be treated differently, a matter that is "highly sensitive" for these countries.

    Mr. Papoulias expressed guarded optimism over the course of the peace process in Bosnia on the opening day of the conference.

    He said that he continued "to believe that there are possibilities for progress but many of the problems must be resolved."

    Speaking to reporters after European Union foreign ministers had been briefed by EU special mediator on former Yugoslavia Karl Bildt concerning the Dayton, Ohio peace talks and agreement, Mr. Papoulias said:

    "Now there are more possibilities than there were in the past for peace in former Yugoslavia."

    The problems in the region remain unresolved, Mr. Papoulias said.

    Earlier, in a reference to the continuing occupation of Cyprus, Mr. Papoulias said Greece had always maintained Europe's safety will be truncated if the problem of Mediterranean safety is not first solved.

    Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, the Spanish EU presidency announced that it had already prejudged European Union approval for Turkey's customs union.

    Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Spanish foreign ministry spokesman Javier Atienca said that there was "total support" by the European Union for Turkey's customs union.

    "It would be a pity if some European representative expressed any note of caution on the matter," he said, adding that the conference was not the place for this.

    [7] ND criticizes gov't preparation for Euro-Mediterranean meeting

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    The main opposition New Democracy party said yesterday that the government was "unprepared" to attend the Euro-Mediterranean conference in Barcelona, which began yesterday.

    A party announcement said Greek ministers were preoccupied with "anything but the international promotion of Greek positions", an attitude, it stressed, that kept the country on the margins of international developments.

    ND accused Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias of going to the conference "without specific positions for important issues which will be discussed and which directly concern our country."

    The Barcelona meeting aims at carving out a far-reaching Euro-Mediterranean partnership.

    The announcement further accused Mr. Papoulias of not holding discussions on these issues with opposition parties.

    [8] Stephanopoulos to meet with Mitsotakis today

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos will have a meeting today with former premier Constantine Mitsotakis, honorary president of main opposition New Democracy party.

    [9] George Papandreou to attend OECD meeting

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    Education Minister George Papandreou leaves today for the Hague to participate in the informal meeting of education ministers of the state-members of the Organization of the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The meeting is taking place in view of the OECD general assembly to take place in Paris on January 16-17 focusing on education-related issues.

    [10] Russians discuss Greek community's problems

    Moscow, 28/11/1995 (ANA/D. Constantakopoulos):

    Problems faced by ethnic Greeks in Russia and those who have been repatriated from the former Soviet Union were discussed by representatives of local expatriate groups and Russian officials in Moscow yesterday.

    The meeting was part of a two-day conference organized by the Russian ministry of nationalities and regional policy.

    During a press conference, representatives from the ethnic Greek organizations asked for promotion of their request for dual citizenship, while they also called for compensation for persecutions incurred during the Stalinist period.

    According to the groups, the primary difficulty in collecting reparations and solving their problems lies in the fact that legislation passed in 1991 for restoration of ethnic Greeks has not been forwarded by the current administration.

    [11] News in Brief

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    Merchant Marine Minister George Katsifaras held a meeting yesterday with his visiting Chinese counterpart, Juang Xedoung.

    The meeting focused on the implementation of a shipping agreement recently signed between the two countries.

    The meeting also confirmed the will of the two countries to further upgrade relations.

    [12] Speakers at annual HACC conference stress fiscal discipline, growth the targets for Greece

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    Senior government officials and opposition party figures discussed prospects and developments for Greece's economy yesterday, at the opening session of the sixth annual Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce conference, entitled this year "The Hour of the Greek Economy".

    National Defence Minister Gerasimos Arsenis said "a government exists, ready to forward a government policy and face national issues based on lines established by Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou."

    In referring to national priorities for the economy, foreign policy and defence, Mr. Arsenis said an effective development programme for the nation is needed along with political and economic stability. He said such a programme has been delayed due to a "weakness in the coordination of powers toward this direction."

    The Greek defence minister said that in a new international environment, Greece must take advantage of expanded markets and new alliances in Europe, the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

    "Greece must in the next 10 years be among the first tier of European nations, and comprise the most dynamic European pole of an emerging regional market in southeastern Europe and the east Mediterranean," Mr. Arsenis said.

    Referring to Balkan countries, he said they should not fall victim to "tough competition" in the area between the United States, Europe and Russia.

    "They should and must establish a Regional Council of Balkan countries in order to promote co-operation in the economy, environment, infrastructure, culture and tourism," he added.

    In his address, Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos warned that the efforts to streamline state finances and to achieve economic convergence with the European Union must not be relaxed in the next few years, but should be intensified.

    Mr. Papadopoulos told the opening session of the conference that this was a "standing goal" which did not justify even the slightest easing of discipline.

    He called on all political leaders to shoulder their responsibilities and "deny the temptation of political cost," stressing that Greece faced a problem of nominal and real convergence with the Maastricht criteria.

    Noting that there would not be a third Delors Package, he warned that if an effort was not made to cover the productive deficit with investments by 1999 (the last year covered by the Delors II Package), there would be an "unconfrontable financial shock. "

    The minister noted that containment of public sector debt was a primary target of the government. He also expressed hope that fiscal management this year and in 1996 would result in significant primary surpluses which, combined with a rapid reduction of interest on state securities, would lead to a leveling out of the debt at 113.2 percentage points of GDP after years of increase.

    [13] Santer

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    European Commission President Jacques Santer, in a videotaped gre-eting to the conference, expressed his conviction that Greece would be able to "exploit the new opportunities provided so as to become a pole of stability in the Balkans and a driving force of the region's economic development."

    Mr. Santer noted that Greece had been a full participant in the building of a strong united Europe for the past 15 years.

    He confirmed the importance placed by the Commission on regional cohesion and noted the Community reinforcement of infrastructural projects in Greece.

    Mr. Santer further expressed satisfaction over Greece's effort towards convergence and also referred to Cyprus in relation to future EU enlargement.

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said that, despite improvement in macroeconomic indicators, the government should pursue greater growth in order to upgrade its social and welfare policies.

    He ruled out the possibility of a slackening in the hard drachma policy.

    [14] GSEE against privatization of National Bank, OTE

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    Meanwhile, General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Protopappas told the conference that his labor umbrella organization would not back denationalization of the National Bank or the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), calling both public organizations "especially critical sectors."

    [15] Evert

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    In his address to the conference, main opposition party New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert called for "effective government, a smaller and more effective state and a developmental economic policy."

    Mr. Evert said a future New Democracy government would have only 17 ministers. "The prime minister will have the role of manager in a government with three circles of responsibility, that is, in national, economic and social sectors," he said. Mr. Evert promised to install caretaker undersecretaries at the foreign, public administration, education and justice ministries.

    He expressed his confidence in present Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos.

    Mr. Evert pledged to privatize public sector businesses and industries such as Olympic Airways, the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA) and Skaramangas shipyards but drew the line at defence industries. However, referring to the latter, he said that "if they cannot survive the competition, they will close down."

    The New Democracy leader also committed himself to selling, through the stock exchange, 49 per cent of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) and the Public Power Corporation (DEH).

    [16] Vartholomeos inaugurates church conference

    Istanbul, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos opened a conference of Orthodox Church representatives here yesterday.

    Entitled "The present and future of Orthodoxy in a united Europe," the conference was organized by the European Union's Orthodox Church office with help from the European Commission, and is attended by religious professors and personalities from Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Finland, the Czech Republic, Poland, France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.

    Subjects to be discussed at the two-day conference include the prospects arising from the union of eastern and central European countries, the place religion has in these societies and the possibilities for religion to contribute to unification procedures.

    [17] Tsohatzopoulos addresses ADEDY conference

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    Addressing the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council's (ADEDY) 29th conference yesterday, Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said "1996 will be the year of major interventions at institutional and social level." Mr. Tsohatzopoulos promised that international labor agreements 151 and 154 - initiating the right of collective negotiations and the signing of collective agreements in the public sector as well - would be ratified in Parliament immediately. He acknowledged the need for real increases in employees' incomes and promised that dialogue with ADEDY would go ahead soon on the new salary scale. ADEDY President Yiannis Koutsoukos said "the previous government's policy of no increases was followed b y the present government's policy of low increases", resulting in a 40 per cent loss for employees over the past five years. The conference will end on Thursday evening when about 600 delegates will elect ADEDY's new 85-member administration.

    [18] ND discusses economy, budget

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert convened a meeting yesterday to discuss the state of the economy and the 1996 budget. The meeting was held with party officials, ND deputies and university professors. Speaking to the press, Mr. Evert expressed pessimism, saying that "there is full dissolution, nothing is functioning, and opportunities abroad are being missed." Yesterday's meeting was the third in a series focusing on the state of the Greek economy.

    [19] 80 billion allocated to restore historical buildings

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis yesterday announced that a total of 80 billion drachmas will be made available over the next four years for the operation of the town and housing restoration programme in twelve regions in Greece.

    Works to be carried out include the upgrading of historical centers, the restoration of protected buildings and the development of free and public use areas.

    Separate restoration programmes apply for the metropolitan centers of Athens and Thessaloniki. The programme will operate with the co-operation of the relevant prefectures and municipalities. Special additional intervention programmes are being drawn up for the areas of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Western Macedonia, north and south Aegean and Epirus.

    Of the total amount, the Special Fund for the Implementation of Town Planning (ETERPS) will provide 25 billion drachmas for 1996-99, while the URBAN programme will provide another eight billion drachmas.

    [20] Israel hosts 'Greek Products Month'

    Athens, 28/11/1995 (ANA):

    The Greek Products Month in Israel, which began November 15, is continuing successfully with the participation of 24 Greek companies promoting their products through 83 big supermarkets run by the Israeli Go Op Zafon firm. The inauguration was made at the

    Tel Aviv Hilton by Israeli Commerce and Industry Minister Micha Barish, who underlined the need to support and strengthen economic relations between the two countries.

    Results achieved so far from the promotion of Greek products are encouraging and reveal great prospects for infiltration of the Israeli market.

    [21] EMU: January 1, 1999 provisionally set for launch

    Brussels, 28/11/1995 (ANA/G. Daratos):

    The council of European Union economy and finance ministers (ECOFIN) reached a compromise decision yesterday and set January 1, 1999, as the launch date to the third and last phase of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

    On this date all national currencies will be "locked" into a system of stable exchange parities based on the single European currency.

    The single European currency will coexist with national currencies for three years, namely until January 1, 2002. In the first six months of that year all national currencies will be gradually withdrawn so that only the single European currency will be in circulation on July 1, 2002.

    The question of which Community currencies will be included in the EMU will depend on real macroeconomic indicators in 1997 (inflation, public deficits, interest rates and public debt - namely the four main indicators of economic and monetary convergence).

    In May 1998, at Germany's request, a special summit will be convened and EU member-state leaders will decide which Community countries fulfill the four convergence criteria to join the EMU.

    What remains to be seen is the nature of relations between EMU member-states and countries which want but cannot or can but do not want to become EMU members. Answers will have to be provided for the two questions at the Madrid summit on December 15-16.

    Two basic political preconditions will have to be taken into consideration in talks and initial agreements: Firstly, whether France will succeed in implementing the main targets set in its convergence programme by the end of 1997; and whether the German government will have managed to detach public opinion from the concept of the German mark by then. All economic and monetary developments and decisions in the EU in the next few years will depend on the two preconditions.

    On the part of Greece, yesterday's council was satisfactory since all accepted that the European Commission's report last week on the course of the Greek economy was "the best since the country joined the Community", according to National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

    Mr. Papantoniou said there was no question of the drachma being devalued, adding that it was sliding within its targeted limits and that on the basis of the convergence programme even the slight depreciation should disappear next year.

    The Greek economy will not be ready to join the EMU in 1997-1998, but later.

    "We will be within the EMU's limits in 1997," Mr. Papantoniou said.

    End of English language section.

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