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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-10-01

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Commission endorses recommendation for Greece's convergence programme
  • [02] Gov't presents bill to overhaul Athens,Piraeus urban transport
  • [03] Gov't welcomes country's biggest ever tourism investment
  • [04] Two foreign firms bid for Hellenic Duty Free Shops
  • [05] Greek stocks slump on decline by European markets, sale tender
  • [06] Gov't pledges to maintain hunt for tax evaders
  • [07] G. Apostolopoulos group in Montenegro
  • [08] Commission endorses plan of action on Union's business environment
  • [09] High-ranking gov't meeting focuses on nat'l employment plan
  • [10] Simitis speaks with newly appointed Albanian PM Majko
  • [11] G. Papandreou cancels trip to Belgrade
  • [12] State Dep't awaiting Greek decision on F-15s
  • [13] G. Papandreou concludes official talks in Poland
  • [14] US consular officer on Crete
  • [15] British national killed in traffic accident
  • [16] Kalamata Int' Documentary Film Festival this month
  • [17] Upgraded Greek presence at Frankfurt Int'l Book Exhibition
  • [18] Idea of int'l Olympic champions association discussed
  • [19] Reduced winter prices on passenger ferries
  • [20] Greek defence minister expects 1999 to bring positive results for Cyprus

  • [01] Commission endorses recommendation for Greece's convergence programme

    BRUSSELS 01/10/1998 (ANA - G. Daratos)

    The European Commission yesterday endorsed the recommendation it will submit to the Council of EU economy and finance ministers (ECOFIN) regarding Greece's all-important convergence programme.

    It is the first specific implementation of the new processes anticipated by the fiscal stability and development agreement on the su-pervision of the economic and fiscal policies of member-states that will not join the euro zone as of Jan. 1, 1999.

    The primary target of the country's convergence programme is adherence by Greece to terms and conditions that will permit it to participate fully in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and in the common euro currency as of 2001.

    The European Commission ascertains that this programme is in accordance with the general economic policy guidelines, ratified at the Cardiff summit last June. The European Commission also said that what is important is for inflation to decrease to the planned level of 2.5 per cent in 1999, with subsequent price stability to be maintained.

    The Greek government must decrease public deficits to 2.4 per cent of GDP in 1998 and then reduce them progressively even further in the years to come in order to reach 0.8 per cent in 2001.

    The public debt will have to decrease from 108.6 of GDP in 1998 to 99.8 per cent in 2001.

    The European Commission also finds that the Greek programme sets out progress scheduled by the government towards convergence criteria and more specifically inflation, fiscal issues, longterm interest rates and monetary stability. The participation of each country in the euro zone depends on respect for these criteria. The Greek convergence programme covers the 1998- 2001 period.

    The main conclusions reached by the Commission after examining the Greek convergence programme are that the programme reflects the target set by the government for respect for the necessary terms and conditions which will allow Greece to join the euro as of Jan. 1, 2001, and that it is mostly adjusted to the requirements of the "Stability Pact" on the condition, of course, that relevant measures of a fiscal and structural nature announced by the government in 1998 for this purpose will be fully implemented.

    The Commission also urges the Greek government to honour commitments in terms of fiscal measures, as well as the implementation of structural reforms which it had announced itself when it included the drachma in the exchange rate mechanism on March 16, 1998.

    The Greek programme is based on an ambitious prediction of growth rates which does not lack realism, says the Commission.

    It further notes that:

    -The growth of salaries at slow rates and the strengthening of fiscal discipline will play a decisive role in the effort to achieve targets set by the convergence programme for a decrease in inflation.

    From this aspect, implementation of the 1998 budget appears to be developing in accordance with predictions. In addition, the Greek authorities announced, after submitting the convergence programme to the Commission, new and more ambitious targets in the fiscal sector for 1999 (deficits amounting to 1.7 per cent of GDP instead of 2.1 per cent).

    -For the success of the Greek convergence programme an increase in public investments is necessary which will be funded through a decrease in current expenditures without, however, overturning the downward trend of the total deficit.

    -The percentage of public debt in relation to GDP decreased since 1994 but more slowly than was allowed by the decrease in deficits during the same period. The programme aims at securing a primary surplus in the region of 7 per cent of GDP, starting from 1998. The intensification of the pace of privatisations of public corporations could play a more important role in reducing the debt.

    -The Commission assesses that the structural deficit (rid of its cyclical fluctuations) aimed at the 0.8 per cent level for deficits in 2001 must be adequate to secure a safety margin so that the 3 per cent ceiling set by the agreement will not be ultim ately exceeded.

    -Structural reforms are essential for an improvement in the Greek economy's effectiveness, particularly in the massive public sector.

    ECOFIN is expected to ratify the Greek convergence programme by issuing an official avis based on the Commission's recommendation at its session on Oct. 12.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Gov't presents bill to overhaul Athens,Piraeus urban transport

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    The government yesterday released a bill to rationalise and unify the sprawling Athens and Piraeus urban transport systems, allowing a write-off of 950 billion drachmas in debts and incorporation of a new metro being built for the capital.

    The bill was devised by Transport and Communications Minister Tasos Mantelis, who outlined its contents at a news conference yesterday.

    Under the terms of the bill, state-owned Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA) will head separate companies currently running the city's blue buses, trollies and green buses, and electric railway, which is being expanded into a fully fledged metro system.

    The firms are destined to become subsidiaries of OASA, which is to undertake strategic planning for city transport, also allocating and checking services for its future subsidiaries.

    OASA will set up a traffic control centre, devise timetables, and expand or abolish routes.

    Local government will have the right to acquire up to 40 percent of OASA's stock, and set up municipal-run transport, guided by OASA's strategic planning.

    OASA will also recommend measures to the transport ministry to ease the circulation of buses in the city's congested traffic, with the ministry coordinating any changes with other ministries.

    Agreement has already been reached with Public Works, Town Planning and Environment Minister Costas Laliotis to extend bus lanes in the capital by five kilometres, Mr. Mantelis said.

    Financial policy for urban transport : Under the terms of the bill, debts totalling 950 billion drachmas will be written off, which comprise a 450 billion drachma deficit for blue buses, 250 billion drachmas in financing for old debts, and 250 billion drachmas in new loans.

    Every September, the government will announce its pricing policy for the next calendar year and set targets for operational spending.

    Mr. Mantelis said that fares would not rise in 1999, and tickets would continue to be valid for both buses and trollies.

    Long-term supply contracts forged by OASA will be financed from the public investment programme with 134.145 billion drachmas for allocation between 1999 and 2002.

    The procurement contracts are for 750 new buses, 192 new trollies and 120 carriages for the electric railway.

    New drivers to be hired,other staff transferred : The government is to hire 200 bus drivers from among the vehicles' previous owners during a short- lived privatisation in the early 1990s; and from among bus drivers who lost their jobs in that denationalisation, which was later reversed by the ruling PASOK party in a change of government.

    Surplus staff will be transferred within OASA and its subsidiaries, and retrained if necessary. Around 700 staff are to be transferred into the transport sector from other public sector services, Mr. Mantelis said.

    New Athens metro to be incorporated into unified system : Under the terms of an article in the bill, the new Athens metro being built is to be incorporated into the capital's unified transport system.

    Within six months of the bill becoming law, Attiko Metro, which is supervising construction of the new underground system, must give the transport ministry an operational plan for two lines nearing completion, and how they will connect with existing bus and trolley services.

    From the date the operational plan is endorsed, Attiko Metro will fall under the jurisdiction of the transport ministry.

    Three months later, Attiko Metro will create a subsidiary to handle transportation.

    The subsidiary will merge with the existing electric railway operator within three years under a special decree to be issued nearer the time by the transport ministry.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Gov't welcomes country's biggest ever tourism investment

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday welcomed a plan by a group of Greek and Greek-American businessmen to spend an initial 50 billion drachmas in developing a stretch of the Peloponnese for tourism.

    The investment spanning four chunks of land in Messinia is considered to be the largest tourism investment project ever undertaken in Greece, and will require the approval of parliament.

    It forms part of Ms Papandreou's policy of subsidising the creation of integrated tourism development areas around the country by private sector investors.

    "The Messinia project meets the government's policy of improving the quality of Greece's tourism product. It is significant that it is taking place in an area of western Greece that has no tourism development," Ms Papandreou told a news conference.

    In the initial phase, the plan involves the construction of luxury hotels totalling 2,300-beds, two 18-hole golf courses, a conference centre, a thalassotherapy centre, sports facilities and a shopping mall.

    The project is expected to be completed by 2002 and will create 1,000 jobs in the area, with spending expected to reach 200 billion drachmas.

    Buildings will cover only one percent of the land for development in the first phase, and five percent at the end of the project.

    Remaining land will retain its natural greenery, or undergo landscaping, in line with a policy to protect the environment. The project's investors are shipowner Vassilis Konstantakopoulos, who owns the land to be developed, and a group of Greek-American businessmen.

    They have set up Messinia Tourist Enterprises SA to carry out the scheme.

    The Konstantakopoulos shipowning family of Messinia has a 95 percent stake in the company.

    The remaining five percent is held by the three Greek-Americans: 2.50 percent by Californian businessman Angelos Tsakopoulos; 1.25 percent by Chicago-based lawyer and banker Jim Rigas; and 1.25 percent by New York engineer Peter Pappas.

    The project will be funded by 35 percent from shareholders' equity, excluding the value of the privately owned land; 35 percent through bank loans; and 30 percent through state subsidies under a development law. Expressions of interest for the project were called last year.

    The deal will have to secure a parliamentary vote in line with all investments worth more than 25 billion drachmas subsidised under the same development law.

    At the moment, Messinia has just 33 hotel beds to 1,000 residents, sharply lower than the Dodecanese islands, where the ratio is 530 to every 1,000 residents. On completion of the project, Messinia will have 85 beds to 1, 000 inhabitants.

    "As a government we support this project being implemented as soon as possible," Ms Papandreou said.

    Mr. Konstantakopoulos, who hails from Messinia, told the news conference that the project was a "lifelong dream" and that he was convinced that it would bring the area to the forefront of Mediterranean tourism.

    He said he was also committed to ensuring the project was environment- friendly, noting that he was president of HELMEPA, the Greek association for the protection of the marine environment.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Two foreign firms bid for Hellenic Duty Free Shops

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    Saresco of France and Kappe of the Netherlands yesterday entered bids in a privatisation tender through the bourse for a 67 percent stake in Hellenic Duty Free Shops SA, the Public Securities Enterprise (DEKA) said.

    It was the second tender for the company after the first fell flat earlier this year. The sale is part of the government's wide-ranging privatisation plan.

    A bid by Saresco with listed Papaellinas and Sarandis was accepted. The firm, which had also taken part in the first tender, yesterday offered 3, 250 drachmas per share accompanied by a copy of a bank letter of guarantee.

    It has been asked to bring the original.

    Rejected by the authorities was Kappe's bid, which offered 3,300 drachmas per share but no letter of guarantee. DEKA said the group had failed to comply with the tender's rules.

    The government had set 3,100 drachmas per share as the floor for bidding.

    Hellenic Duty Free Shops has already floated a 20 percent stake on the Athens Stock Exchange. The current flotation is to offer most of the remaining stock.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greek stocks slump on decline by European markets, sale tender

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    Greek equities lost ground in scant trade yesterday, affected by declines in other markets in Europe and caution over a tender through the bourse to privatise Hellenic Duty Free Shops SA with bids due after the session's close, analysts said.

    The general index ended 1.80 percent down at 2,120.90 points with turnover at 30.7 billion drachmas, slightly down on 33.6 billion drachmas in the previous session, on 6,413,000 shares traded.

    Sector indices mostly finished lower.

    The heavily weighted banking sector plunged 1.74 percent, Insurance dropped 0.95 percent, Investment rose 0.48 percent, Leasing lost 3.22 percent, Industrials slumped 2.71 percent, Construction dropped 2.07 percent, Miscellaneous shed 3.25 percent and H olding fell 0.99 percent.

    The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.21 percent lower. The FTSE/ASE-20 blue chip index lost 1.69 percent to end at 1,281.28 points.

    Of 250 shares traded, laggards outpaced advancers by 178 to 51 with 21 remaining unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks were Metka, Hellenic Duty Free Shops, Boutaris and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation.

    The day's biggest percentage gainers were Lambropoulos Bros., Dimitriadis, Boutaris (common), Kekrops, Konstandinidis, Boutaris (preferred), Vis, Keramia Allatini, Dane Sea Line and Metka.

    Suffering the heaviest percentage losses were Edrassi, Radio Athine, Attikat, Ridenco, Sarandopoulos Mills, Sato, Radio Athine, Ionian Hotels, Sportsman and Petzetakis.

    National Bank of Greece ended at 38,800 drachmas, Ergobank at 23,200, Alpha Credit Bank at 21,400, Ionian Bank at 10,155, Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6,900, Delta Dairy at 3,150, Intracom at 10,610, Hellenic Petroleum at 2,450 and Titan Cement at 17,205 drachmas.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Gov't pledges to maintain hunt for tax evaders

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    The government yesterday pledged to continue rooting out tax evaders following its release of the names of 20 high-profile tax dodgers, including the municipality of Athens.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas dismissed claims that the finance ministry's announcement that Athens Municipality was being fined 500 million drachmas for non-payment of Value Added Tax was a political manoeuvre before municipal elections next month.

    "The state does not stop operating during a pre-election period, just as laws do not stop operating," Mr. Reppas said.

    The checks to detect tax evaders and reveal their names would continue to be carried out by the ministry's financial crimes squad and other tax authority officials, he said.

    Mr. Reppas added that if the tax-evading celebrities and professionals named by the government on Tuesday believed they had been defamed, they could seek recourse to the courts.

    "We all need to be aware of the need to combat tax evasion," he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] G. Apostolopoulos group in Montenegro

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    Implementation of an investment plan by the G. Apostolopoulos group for the creation of medical diagnostic centres in several Balkan countries is underway.

    Such centres will conceivably cooperate with a medical centre to be built in Thessaloniki by the group.

    A delegation of the group, headed by president G. Apostolopoulos, paid a two-day visit to Montenegro, where an agreement was signed for the establishment of a medical diagnostic centre in Podgorica. A draft agreement was also signed for the group's part icipation in the management and equipment programme of the European health centre in Igalo.

    Talks were held with the Montenegrin prime minister and other members of the local government on prospects of cooperation and investments by the group in Montenegro.

    The plans of the G. Apostolopoulos group include the establishment of diagnostic centres in Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Yugoslavia and Albania, while diagnostic centres are already operating in Bucharest and Prague.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Commission endorses plan of action on Union's business environment

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    The European Commission yesterday endorsed an announcement and a plan of action regarding the improvement and simplification of the Union's business environment.

    The announcement and the plan of action constitute a reply and a continuation to relevant proposals by the special "BEST group".

    The Commission also proposes an integrated strategy for the promotion of enterprise all over the European Union to improve the competitiveness of European businesses and, in this way, to strengthen development and the creation of jobs.

    "The improvement of the business environment and the promotion of the business spirit constitute important factors for the continuous development of the European economy," said EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis, who is responsible for business policy in the EU.

    "We must now focus our attention on the actions and the implementation of measures for a consistent and coordinated strategy which will be jointly agreed between member-states and the Commission," he added.

    The Special Action Group (BEST) was established in September 1997 as an independent group of businesspeople, administrative employees and university experts with a wide scope of action.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] High-ranking gov't meeting focuses on nat'l employment plan

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou chaired a meeting of government officials yesterday on the implementation of the national action plan for employment, its adjustment to new economic factors and planning of the new programme for 1999.

    The meeting was attended by Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, Labour and Social Insurances Minister Miltiades Papaioannou, Labour Undersecretary Christos Protopappas, Education Undersecretary Yiannis Anthopoulos, Agriculture Undersecretary Vassilis Geranidis and the prime minister's adviser, T. Yiannitsis.

    It was agreed that relevant ministers will meet regularly to achieve coordination in the struggle against unemployment, while the secretary generals of their ministries will function as a coordinating body under the supervision of Mr. Protopappas, with the purpose of securing an improvement in the results of government activities towards increasing employment.

    Mr. Papaioannou said that unemployment in the country has been stabilised under the European Union average, at 10.3 per cent according to data by the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) or 9.6 per cent when based on Eurostat's system of measurement.

    Mr. Papaioannou said the assessment of the plan was positive, adding that 17,000 new jobs were created with the employment subsidisation programme for young unemployed people, while rates show that the target of 40,000 jobs will be achieved.

    On the question of funds for employment, Mr. Papaioannou said that he would like many more but understands priorities in convergence and difficulties contained in the 1999 budget.

    On the question of undocumented foreign workers, it was noted that 373,000 people have been registered, while 70,000 people have applied for "green card" residence permits.

    A meeting is expected over the next few days between ministers responsible for the struggle against unemployment and the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) for a discussion on the positions of social partners and to secure their participation in the plan.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Simitis speaks with newly appointed Albanian PM Majko

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday held a telephone conversation with his newly appointed Albanian counterpart Pandeli Majko, government sources said.

    Mr. Simitis congratulated Mr. Majko on his appointment and invited him to visit Athens on Nov. 12, sources added.

    Accepting the invitation, Mr. Majko expressed reservations over the date of the visit, the same sources said, adding that it will be fixed through diplomatic channels.

    Meanwhile, commenting on the formation of the new Albanian government, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said Greece hoped the new leadership would prove to be a catalyst for positive developments in the neighbouring country.

    "We fully support the new prime minister in his efforts to tackle the most pressing and important issues that Albania faces today, i.e. the restoration of public order, the fight against corruption, the economy, and the institution-building process," he said.

    "We call on President (Rexhep) Mejdani to take political initiatives to revive the spirit of dialogue and round tables with a constructive opposition. A constructive opposition is one that takes part actively in parliament and the constitutional process. It is also totally against those tactics which contribute to the recent violent events in Tirana," he added.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] G. Papandreou cancels trip to Belgrade

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, currently the Council of Europe's rotating presidency chairman, has cancelled a scheduled visit to Belgrade tomorrow after the refusal of Yugoslav authorities to grant entry visas to an adequate number of foreign participants for a conference in the Yugoslav capital.

    Mr. Papandreou was to go to Belgrade for the opening of the "International Conference on Broadcasting for a Democratic Europe: The case of the Association of Independent Electronic Media - ANEM", organised by the secretary general of the Council of Europe. He expressed his "full support to the organisers of the conference" and said that he "shared the efforts put forward for the strengthening of the role of the media in Yugoslavia".

    Athens News Agency

    [12] State Dep't awaiting Greek decision on F-15s

    WASHINGTON 01/10/1998 (ANA- T. Ellis)

    State Department spoksman James Foley said yesterday the US administration would not reach a final decision on approval of the sale of ultra-modern F- 15 fighter aircraft to Greece, which is considering their acquisition, until

    Athens made a definite choice. "The US will reach no decision until Greece makes its final choice," he said in response to questions relating to reported concern among members of congress that the sale might intensify the arms race between Greece and Turkey.

    "The US wants Grece and Turkey to create a mechanism for the peaceful resolution of their differences, such as the Internatinoal Court at The Hague, on th basis of principles governing internatinoal law," Mr. Foley said.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] G. Papandreou concludes official talks in Poland

    WARSAW 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday wound up talks with Poland's political leadership, centring on that country's drive towards European Union accession, pro-jected in the year 2002.

    Discussions with Polish President Aleksander Kwasnieswski, Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, and Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek established that Warsaw has set as a top priority the forging of closer ties with European organisations, including the EU and NATO, sources said.

    Mr. Papandreou stressed to his interlocutors that the countries hoping to participate in EU enlargement, which Greece supports, must proceed at a fast pace in the harmonisation of their national legislation with Community law, as well as in economic dev elopment.

    He also emphasised that European integration is a continuing process, and that for this reason Greece is still battling to overcome difficulties with the adoption of appropriate measures.

    Further, Mr. Papandreou said the Poles are hoping for a smooth accession course for Cyprus, noting that the island-republic's chief accession negotiator, George Vassiliou, participated in a recent meeting of the representatives of candidate-member countries, who all agreed on the need for a smooth such course for Cyprus.

    Poland is considered as the most prominent candidate for EU entry. Its per capita income stands at 30 per cent of the Community average, while value added in agriculture is a meagre 6.6 per cent, which means that it must make considerable strides in the primary sector.

    There are also about 40 joint Greek-Polish businesses, primarily active in the sectors of shipping, industry, trade, textiles and agriculture.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] US consular officer on Crete

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    A US consular officer will travel to Crete to provide consular services for American citizens residing on the island, according to a US embassy press release.

    The US consul will be in Hania on Monday and Tuesday, and in Irakleio on Wednesday and Thursday.

    The consul will take passport applications, provide limited notarial services, and answer questions on consular matters while an official will also be available in Irakleio to answer questions on social security matters.

    All US citizens residing on Crete who currently hold a US passport may apply for a renewal or amendment of that passport when the US consul is in Crete.

    Residents of Greece who have lost their passports and do not need to travel immediately can apply for a replacement passport (anyone with immediate travel plans must appear in person at the US embassy in Athens).

    Time permitting, American citizen parents of children born in Greece may also apply for the consular report of birth abroad for their children.

    The consul will not take visa applications or answer questions about specific visa cases.

    Citizens interested in receiving consular services on Crete should contact the embassy for details on the consul's exact schedule.

    Please call (01) 72.02.494 or 72.02.464, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] British national killed in traffic accident

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    A 62-year-old British woman was killed and another seriously injured when their car fell off a cliff on the national highway between Argos and Tripoli.

    Police said Penny Merison, a resident of Cambridge, was killed Tuesday evening when the car, driven by Darrylyn Berenic Lyford Heyer, a resident of Kingswin Ford, fell off the cliff on the old national highway.

    The driver was seriously injured, as were two other passengers. All three were being treated at the Tripoli regional hospital.

    Athens News Agency

    [16] Kalamata Int' Documentary Film Festival this month

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    The annual Kalamata International Documentary Film Festival will be held Oct. 28-31 in the southwestern Peloponnese city.

    The festival consists of special documentary programmes and various other events, including a one-day conference on the subject of "Documentary: Politics and the Shaping of Ideas" complemented by a programme of Greek and foreign documentaries.

    The festival, under the aegis of the development ministry, is sponsored by the National Tourism Organisation (EOT).

    Athens News Agency

    [17] Upgraded Greek presence at Frankfurt Int'l Book Exhibition

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    The 50th Frankfurt International Book Exhibition will be inaugurated on Oct. 6 with an upgraded Greek presence and pavilion.

    On his part, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said that an international book exhibition will also be started in Thessaloniki within the framework of HELEXPO.

    "It is an issue which we are processing with the assistance of HELEXPO and the Thessaloniki International Fair, but we do not want to make an announcement before some discussions are completed," Mr. Venizelos said at a press conference with the president of the Panhellenic Federation of Book Publishers, Georgios Dardanos.

    "In light of 2001, the year in which Greece will be the honoured country at the exhibition, our presence will be orientated towards this event," he said.

    The Greek pavilion is considering 1,500 books produced over the past 18 months which have been proposed by publishers.

    Athens News Agency

    [18] Idea of int'l Olympic champions association discussed

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras yesterday told reporters that the founding of an "interna-tional Olympic champions association", headquartered in ancient Olympia, will constitute a national investment for Greece.

    Mr. Fouras said that targets of such an association, which will be annually funded with 75 million drachmas by the government, were the development of the Olympic movement, passing the Olympic spirit and a sense of cooperation to state organisations.

    Athens News Agency

    [19] Reduced winter prices on passenger ferries

    Athens 01/10/1998 (ANA)

    Passenger ferries prices will decrease by 20 per cent as of today and until March 31, 1999, compared to summer rates. Reduced prices are valid on all primary and secondary coastal shipping routes, as well as on the Saronic routes - with the exception of local destinations.
    Athens News Agency

    [20] Greek defence minister expects 1999 to bring positive results for Cyprus

    NICOSIA 01/10/1998 (ANA/CNA)

    Greece and Cyprus constantly upgrade their defensive capabilities, Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who is visiting the island said yesterday.

    He also predicted that during 1999 there would be more positive initiatives concerning Cyprus' accession to the European Union (EU).

    Speaking to the press after a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart, Yiannakis Omirou, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the purpose of his visit is to attend the celebrations for the 38th anniversary of Cyprus' independence which is today, October 1st.

    He noted they discussed the issue of a more effective cooperation between the two countries on joint defence and security, and the political developments in the region.

    Given the political turbulence of the region, the two countries are working for stronger stability, cooperation and balance through constant upgrading of their defensive capabilities, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    Referring to Cyprus' European course, he said the island's accession to the EU is simply a matter of time, adding "more positive initiatives" are likely next year.

    On his part, Mr. Omirou said they discussed military cooperation between the two countries in the framework of their joint defence pact, and issues of collective security in the Mediterranean.

    The Pact remains "a central strategic choice" for Greece and Cyprus, he explained adding that the two countries are facing Turkish threats with determination and poise.

    Referring to Cyprus' European course, Mr. Omirou said in view of its EU perspective, the island is turning into a starting point for the promotion of EU's policies in the region.

    The Greek defence minister later on had a meeting with the Commander of the National Guard Lieutenant General Dimitrios Dimou.

    Arrival statements : "Our differences with Turkey is that it continues, for 24 years now, to insist in depriving northern Cyprus of its human rights , freedom and international law", Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said earlier in arrival statements.

    "We are not ready to accept for long the last dividing line, the Attila wall, in the ranks of the European Union, which Cyprus aspires to enter soon after the completion of its (accession) negotiations", the Greek minister said.

    Asked if the contract to deploy the Russian anti-aircraft missiles to Cyprus will be implemented, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos clarified:

    "The Cyprus and Greek people, have a very good experience of the expansionist policy and threats from the part of Turkey.

    Expansionist policies are handled decisively on two levels, with a firm policy and determined attitude to handle national sovereignty issues and secondly, an unimpeded and complete defence suffici-ency.

    The Greek minister said "the political option we must rely on is the continued, unimpeded strengthening of the defence capabilities of the Cyprus Republic".

    Invited to send a message to the people of Cyprus who are being threatened by Turkey, in case the missiles are deployed, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos replied that "for threats which are only words, we do not have to reply with words. We are ready to reply with deeds".

    Athens News Agency

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