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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-12-03

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

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


NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 03/12/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Farmers` blockades continue throughout nation, transportation problems arise
  • Pangalos talks in China focus on economic, political relations
  • Athens calls for full probe into forest fires by Turks
  • G. Papandreou rejects notion of 'traditional hostility' between Greece and Turkey
  • Simitis holds talks with several European leaders in Lisbon
  • Foreign accountants auditing 12 A.S.E. stock brokerage firms

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Farmers' blockades

    Serious problems in intrastate traffic and the distribution of goods throughout the country emerged yesterday as a result of farmers' blockades of national highways and railway lines in several locations.

    Farmers placed roadblocks at a number of points on the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway, while others in the northern prefectures of Thessaloniki, Imathia, Pella and Pieria cut off western Macedonia from the city of Thessaloniki yesterday as part of their ongoing protests for cheaper fuel and increased crop subsidies.

    Meanwhile, transportation to northern Greece came at a standstill as national bus company lines (KTEL) were prevented from going through blockades, while farmers also blocked the railway line at Larisa.

    In addition, there were concerns about the continuing supply of dairy and fresh food produce.

    Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas, after chairing a meeting with representatives of agricultural cooperatives, announced a number of measures for cotton farmers, including a 40-drachma-increase per kilo, favourable terms for settlement of outstan ding debts and a freezing of current debts. He also promised to ask the European Commission for increased subsidies for stockbreeders. He added that demands put forward by the Farmers' Coordinating Committee represented a cost of one trillion drachmas, besides amounting to an overturn of the government's Common Agricultural Policy.

    "Only two of the demands, regarding fuel and subsidies per acre cost 130- 150 billion drachmas. There is simply no such money," Mr. Tzoumakas said.

    Exporters of fresh produce were expected to face enormous problems in the next few days.

    Pangalos talks in China

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos held a meeting here yesterday with Chinese Alternate Foreign Minister Zao Ping, focusing on an assessment of economic and political relations between the two countries.

    Beijing's minister elaborated on his country's foreign policy and briefed the Greek delegation on the operation and prospects of the "Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation."

    Mr. Pangalos elaborated on Athens' policy in the Balkans and presented the government's positions in Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus problem.

    He also held a meeting with the first vice-president of the People's Republic of China, Le Lan Ching, who expressed the government's interest in greater imports of Greek products as well as establishing a framework for Greek investment and business activity in the emerging Chinese market.

    Mr. Le also reiterated China's support for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.

    Japan visit

    Before landing in China, Mr. Pangalos held a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Yukihiko Ikeda during his official visit to Japan.

    At a meeting, both sides reaffirmed the very positive climate prevailing in bilateral relations, while Mr. Ikeda expressed his government's intention to open a Japanese consulate in Thessaloniki.

    Mr. Pangalos briefed his Japanese counterpart on Greece's intention to submit in 1999 an application for the position of a non-permament member at the UN Security Council.

    He also said Greece would support Japan in the event of a future change in the composition of the Security Council.

    Mr. Ikeda and Mr. Pangalos also discussed economic relations between Greece and Japan with an emphasis on increasing Greek imports to Japan, increasing the number of Japanese tourists visiting Greece and attracting Japanese investment to Greece.

    The Greek minister briefed Mr. Ikeda on the situation in the Balkans, developments in the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations.

    Mr. Ikeda said Tokyo would support the Cyprus' cause in its capacity as non- permament member to the Security Council which goes into effect as of Jan. 1, 1997.

    He further accepted an invitation by the Greek minister to visit Greece.

    Mr. Pangalos also conveyed an invitation by Prime Minister Costas Simitis to the emperor and empress of Japan to visit Greece.

    Athens calls for full inquiry into claims of forest torchings by Turks

    Ankara must do all it can to investigate allegations that Turkish saboteurs were involved in the torching of Greek forests on eastern Aegean islands, acting government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said yesterday.

    "This matter must be responded to," Mr. Nikolaou said, adding that the issue was not political and that the charges are extremely serious.

    Turkish True Path Party (DYP) deputy Sedat Bucak in a recent television interview alleged Turkish involvement in the burning of Greek forests.

    In a meeting with Turkish Foreign Undersecretary Onur Oymen on Saturday, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou raised the issue of the allegations.

    Mr. Oymen reportedly denied any involvement of the Turkish state. Mr. Papandreou said a simple statement was not enough and that Ankara should begin an in-depth investigation.

    G.Papandreou rejects notion of `traditional hostility` between Greece, Turkey

    In an interview with the Turkish daily "Cumhurriyet", Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said there is no traditional hostility between Greece and Turkey, adding "that friendly relations exist traditionally."

    In the interview, given during his two-day stay in Istanbul, Mr. Papandreou said "pending issues exist" and, referring to the Imia islet incident last January, he said "Turkey showed an aggressive behaviour."

    "If you think some border difference exists there are legal ways of resolving it," he said.

    Mr. Papandreou said if Greek-Turkish issues are resolved at some time, "Greece will become Turkey's biggest supporter and ally in the European Union."

    In an interview with the newspaper "Hurriyet" and referring to the Cyprus issue, Mr. Papandreou said: "I would prefer to see a solution before EU accession," adding: "In this way the Turkish community could participate in accession negotiations together with the Greek Cypriots. If the Turkish Cypriot community becomes a part of the EU it will constitute a bridge between the EU and Turkey."

    Tzoganis with Bulgarian defence minister, general staff chief

    Chief of the National Defence General Staff Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis met with Bulgarian Defence Minister Dimitar Pavlov and his Bulgarian counterpart Tsvetan Bladenov Totomirov yesterday during his official visit to the neighbouring country.

    The two armed forces' chiefs are due to sign a bilateral military cooperation agreement for 1997, something Gen. Tzoganis has described as being "realistic", adding it will contribute to improvement of contacts between the two countries' armed forces and to stability in the region.

    Gen. Tzoganis and Mr. Pavlov discussed the ability of Bulgaria to participate in new peacekeeping forces for support of the Dayton peace agreement in Bosnia.

    The Greek military leader expressed Athens' support for the convening of a Balkan defence ministers' meeting in Sofia next year.

    Air force chief: Moscow visit

    Hellenic Air Force Chief Lt. Gen. Antonetsis flew in a Russian-made "Sukhoi 27" warplane at a base southeast of Moscow recently as part of his official visit to Russia.

    Lt. Gen. Antonetsis headed a Hellenic Air Force delegation, which visited Russia from Nov. 27 until yesterday, at the invitation of the chief of the Russian air defence forces, Gen. Prudikov, and returning a visit the latter made to Greece. The exchange was part of the military cooperation agreement signed two years ago by the two countries' defence ministers at the time.

    Gen. Antonetsis visited Russian military bases and the S300 anti-aircraft missile unit protecting the Russian capital. Cyprus has also shown interest in the S300 missile system, considered to be Russia's counterpart of the US Patriot missile.

    Simitis talks with European leaders on OSCE sidelines

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday held talks with seversal European leaders on the sidelines of a summit conference of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which opened in Lisbon yesterday.

    Mr. Simitis is due to address the summit today, whose agenda includes European security issues as well as the OSCE's relations with Russia.

    The premier is accompanied on his trip by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas.

    The Greek premier had separate meetings with Romanian President Emil Constantinescu, Albanian President Sali Berisha and the secretary general of the West European Union (WEU) Jose Cutilheiro.

    He also held short meetings with the Italian, Norwegian and Irish prime ministers, NATO's secretary general Javier Solana and EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek.

    Later, Mr. Simitis also met with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.

    According to Greek government sources, talks focused on issues concerning bilateral relations as well as European Union matters and the Intergovernmental Conference, in light of the EU Dublin summit.

    Mr. Simitis stressed to his counterparts that Athens insists on the issue of safeguarding the EU's external borders.

    1998 congress of TV channels in Thessaloniki

    The 1998 congress of television channels which are members of CIRCOM (the EU Television Channels of Europe association) is to be held in Thessaloniki, following a decision by the CIRCOM administrative council.

    CIRCOM's administrative council met for the first time outside Strasbourg, where it is based, yesterday accepted a proposal submitted by the Greek state-held channel ERT-3 and on the occasion of Thessaloniki being Cultural Capital of Europe in 1997.

    Roughly 360 channels from 36 countries are to participate in the meeting, which is to be held in May 1998.

    ADEDY strike December 17

    Civil servants will stage another 24-hour strike on Dec. 17 following a decision taken by the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) yesterday.

    The union is demanding implementation of a new pay scale to protect and improve the incomes of civil servants, price indexation of the tax scale and extention of the non-taxable limit.

    Gov't: foreign accountants auditing 12 ASE stock brokerage firms

    Foreign chartered accounting firms are carrying out audits in 12 stock brokerage firms implicated in last month's default of Delta Securities, National Economy Undersecretary Alexandros Baltas told Parliament yesterday.

    "The findings will be released as soon audits are completed," he added.

    He said the government was doing everything possible in respect to legal provisions for the restoration of confidence in the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE).

    Main opposition New Democracy party deputies criticised the government of failing to adopt measures to prevent the scandal, which cost small investors 2.5 billion drachmas.

    Mr. Baltas retorted that the scandal came to light after an auditing by the national economy ministry.

    Patriarch to visit Austria in June

    A visit by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos to Austria will take place next June, the Metropolitan of Austria and Exarch of Hungary and Central Europe Michail announced yesterday.

    The Patriarch's visit had originally been scheduled for last October and was postponed until January 1997, while the date has now been finalised for June 1997.

    The delays had been necessary due to the ill-health of Austrian President Thomas Klestil, who reports say will need a few more months until he is able to again resume his official duties.

    WEATHER

    Improved weather in several parts of the country with spells of sunshine in Athens where temperatures in Athens will range from 12-16C. and in Thessaloniki from 4-13C.

    SPORTS

    Olympiakos beat Ionikos 1-0 in an away match in the Greek First Division Championship. Olympiakos now has 23 points and Ionikos 12 in the overall standings after 10 games.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates (buying) U.S. dlr 240.094, Can. dlr.177.885, Australian dlr. 196.937, Pound sterling 404.835, Irish punt 404.240, Cyprus pd 516.832, French franc 45.947, Swiss franc 183.158 Belgian franc 7.563, German mark 155.843, Finnish mark 52.046, Dutch guilder 138.895, Danish Kr. 40.712, Swedish Kr. 35.793, Norwegian Kr. 37.408, Austrian Sh. 22.154, Italian lira (100) 15.833, Yen (100) 211.316, Spanish Peseta 1.850, Portuguese Escudo 1.545.

    (C.E.)


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