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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-12-04

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, 04/12/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov't says it cannot meet all of farmers' demands
  • Greek economy looking better, budget discussion told
  • New gov't tax bill submitted
  • Athens to host quadrilateral meeting on regional cooperation
  • Italy returns illegal immigrants
  • Police report on crime
  • Simitis says Greece`s position reinforced with principles adopted at OSCE summit
  • No agreement on Cyprus flyover moratorium
  • Palestinian terrorist to be released
  • Turkish business leaders to meet in Athens

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Gov't says it cannot satisfy all farmers' demands

    The government said today that it was unable to satisfy farmer's demands in their entirety because this would require about one trillion drachmas.

    The inner cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis met this morning to discuss the government's response to farmers' protests which have caused widespread disruption to road and rail communications throughout the country over the past six days.

    Among other things, farmers are demanding higher produce prices and increased subsidies, favourable debt settlements, cheaper fuel to cut the cost of production and lower prices for fertilizers.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said after the meeting that to give in to all the farmers' demands would cost the state one trillion drachmas.

    In addition, he said, there were European Union and legal ''commitments and obstacles'' which would prevent this anyway.

    Reppas said that there was no margin for further concessions from the government, noting that the cost of measures already announced by Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas to assist farmers would run into hundreds of billions drachmas.

    The spokesman added that the government did not regard the farmers as ''opponents'' and expected them to show ''good faith''.

    He left open the possibility of a direct meeting between Simitis and farmers' representatives, adding however that such meetings could not be held ''under the weight of pressure and in the climate currently prevailing because of the road blocks''.

    Greek economy looking better, parliament committee told

    The Greek economy has had a substantial recovery in the past three years, Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis said today.

    He told a parliamentary committee examining the 1997 State budget that this recovery was due not to 'conjunctures' but to 'permanent factors' such as stabilisation of the public deficit and a substantial increase in investments.

    The committee today began a three-day discussion of the budget before it is brought to the 300-member House on December 17 for a five-day debate ending in a vote.

    Christodoulakis, filling in for National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou who was attending an extraordinary Inner Cabinet meeting on the ongoing farmers' blockades of national highways and rail links throughout the country for financial demands, said that a condition for aachievement of the budget targets for 1997 was an end of demands by certain social groups.

    He said the target of a low inflation rate in 1997 was feasible, adding that the government was prepared to begin dialogue with the producer classes for containment of prices.

    Ruling PASOK party general rapporteur Yannis Zafiropoulos described the budget as ''developmental, socially just and crucial for the course of the country''. He said it aimed at stabilisation of the economy, adding that attainment of its targets was ''crucial''.

    He anticipated a 3.3% GDP growth at the end of 1997, containment of inflation at 6.5% and stabilisation of unemployment at 9.6%.

    Main opposition New Democracy party (ND) rapporteur George Alogoskoufis predicted that the PASOK government's budgets would lead the economy to new impasses in two years, warning of the prospect of Greece's exclusion from the first as well as the second category of participation in the EU's economic and monetary union (EMU) as a result.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress representative Yannis Dragassakis accused the government of exhausting its efforts in ''marginal interventions in cutting back expenditures'' and maitained the government had no plan for restructuring of the economy.

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKI) spokesman Tassos Intzes called the budget ''plasmatic and counter-developmental', predicting that the Greek economy would ''go from bad to worse'' and that inflation would not fall below 7%.

    The committee will complete its three-day review of the budget on Friday.

    New tax bill submitted

    The government's new fiscal bill introducing new taxes and abolishing certain exemptions was today submitted to the Parliamentary legislative committee.

    Under the bill, new taxes are to be levied on real estate over a certain value, state bonds and treasury bills, bank profits and foreign exchange deposits of permanent residents of Greece.

    It also introduces higher presumed expenses, used by the tax authorities as an indicator of income, for private cars and pleasure craft.

    Over 200 tax exemptions and allowances which are considered as having no social or development value are either abolished or modified under the bill.

    Athens to host meeting on regional cooperation next month

    The Foreign Ministers of Greece, Armenia Georgia, and Iran are due to meet in Athens next month to discuss matters of regional cooperation.

    The deputy foreign ministers of the four countries opened their second quadrilateral meeting on Tuesday in Tehran.

    Foreign Ministry Secretary General Constantine Georgiou, Armenian and Georgian deputy foreign ministers Sergei Mansarian and Malkhaz Kakabadzadeh respectively, and Iranian deupty foreign minister for Euro-American affairs Mahmoud Vaezi, are heading delegations from their countries to the three- day meeting.

    Mr. Vaezi told the opening sessin that the independence of the Central Asian and Caucasus republics had provided an opportunity for the Islamic republic of Iran to move ahead with bilateral and regional cooperation with the republics.

    He said Iran believed that regional cooperation was an ''important means for guaranteeing peace and security in the region'', and that was why ''Iran is seriously interested in bilateral, trilateral and quadrilateral cooperation with the regional states''.

    Economic coopoeration in the region was aimed at closer ties among the regional countries, and was not detrimental to other countries, he added.

    The deputy foreign ministers, acting on an Iranian proposal, formed four committees on telecommunicatins, tourism, industry and technological knowhow, and trade and energy, to explore venues for joint cooperation among the four countries.

    Italy returns Iraqi illegal immigrants

    The Italian authorities have returned to Greece a group of 96 Iraqi illegal immigrants -- 76 of them of Kurdish origin -- who tried to secretly disembark at the port of Ancona, Patras police said today.

    Italian harbour authorities found the Iraqis hiding in the backs of an Italian and two Greek trucks on board the Greek ferry. The truck drivers were taken into custody by the Italian authorities.

    The Iraqis were turned over to the Greek ferry captain to be returned to the port of Patras, where they were taken into custody by the Patras authorities late last night.

    Police report on crime

    Police today shed light on a number of murders, armed robberies and other serious crimes alleged to have been carried out by two gangs whose leader was eventually killed by the members themselves.

    The man who formed the two gangs, Vassilis Souflas, 35, was allegedly shot dead in March 1996 by two members of the second gang he formed, for personal differences and chiefly because he was pressing the gang to commit murders for no real reason.

    Sotiris Kousis, 33, one of the two men alleged to have murdered Souflas, was arrested in Amsterdam after efforts by the Greek police in cooperation with Interpol and extradited to Greece on November 8.

    Kousis has so far been charged with two armed robberies against two bank branches in northern Greece.

    In all, police believe the two gangs formed by Souflas were responsible between 1992 and 1995 for 13 murders, 13 armed robberies and one kidnapping.

    Simitis: Greece's position reinforced

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said a Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe summit conference (OSCE), which ended here yesterday, had reaffirmed a "joint position to pursue cooperation and strengthen security and peace in Europe."

    The premier underlined that this issue was particularly important for Greece, "because as awareness increases of the need to eliminate or limit phenomena of violence, threat of the use of force, regional claims, contempt for international law and the trampling of human rights,

    "We want a climate which rejects aggressive behaviour," Mr. Simitis said.

    Addressing the summit conference earlier in the day, Mr. Simitis said OSCE should play an important role in peace procedures in conflicts or disputes between countries. This statement was considered by observers as a clear referrence to Greek-Turkish relations.

    "It is the hope and intention of Greece to see that its neighbouring countries are entering the family of democratic states, respecting the rights of minorities, the values of a pluralistic democracy, international law and human rights in an environment free of tension, dangers and threats, " Mr. Simitis said.

    Meetings with Demirel, Gligorov

    Mr. Simitis also had brief separate meetings yesterday with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel and the president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Kiro Gligorov, on the sidelines of the OSCE meeting.

    He later described the contacts as being of a "social nature with political content," indicating also that he had discussed developments in the region.

    Referring to his meeting with Mr. Demirel, Mr. Simitis said "Athens ascertains that there are no margins for a dialogue between Greece and Turkey."

    Cyprus military overflights

    Greece and Cyprus yesterday stressed that there are no negotiations and no agreements on a possible moratorium concerning the flights of warplanes over the island republic.

    Addressing reporters on the sidelines of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Lisbon, both Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides denied the existence of any agreement on this issue.

    He made the statement when replying to press questions on a reported proposal for an eight-month moratorium proposed by Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides to US State Department official Carey Cavanaugh on the condition that progress was made in political negotiations for settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    No agreement on ban, Clerides says

    President Clerides has indicated he would not commit himself at this stage to a ban on flights of Greek military aircraft over Cyprus.

    The president has also made it clear that the joint defence doctrine with Greece will continue to be to be strengthened and noted that plans for the construction of an air base in Cyprus would go ahead.

    Convicted terrorist Rashid scheduled for release

    Convicted Palestinian terrorist Mohammed Rashid will be released from prison and deported from Greece after serving three-fifths of a 16-year- term for a bomb attack against a US airliner in August 1982.

    Rashid, 46, a self-proclaimed officer of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) was arrested at Athens airport in 1988 and convicted of premeditated homicide for planting a bomb in a Hawaii-bound Pan Am airliner which killed a Japanese teenager and injured 15 other passengers.

    Turkish business leaders in Athens

    Several leading Turkish business leaders are scheduled to meet with their Greek counterparts on Dec. 9-10 in Athens on the initiative of the council of Greek-Turkish Business Cooperation following an invitation by the Union of Young Businessmen of Greece, which visited Istanbul last October.

    Academics, union members and reporters are also due to attend the meeting.

    "I believe the chain of meetings that will be held will constitute a positive base for the policies of both countries," the president of the Istanbul Industrial Chamber, Husametin Kavi, said.

    The Committee of Foreign Economic Relations (DEIK) has announced that trade between the two countries totals US$400 million, adding that the Athens meeting will further improve existing cooperation.

    WEATHER

    A further drop in temperatures is forecast in most parts of Greece today with storms in the Aegean sea. Athens will be cloudy with raifalls in the north and eastern parts and temperatures ranging from 8-13C. Thessaloniki will also be cloudy and rainy with temperatures ranging from 4-12C. The rest of the country will also be cloudy and rainy with snowfalls in the mountainous regions in the north and eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Weather improvement is expected from tomorrow.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates (buying) U.S. dlr 243.407, Can. dlr.180.584, Australian dlr. 196.614, Pound sterling 405.807, Irish punt 405.232, Cyprus pd 516.653, French franc 45.955, Swiss franc 183.614 Belgian franc 7.544, German mark 155.526, Finnish mark 52.062, Dutch guilder 138.597, Danish Kr. 40.654, Swedish Kr. 35.827, Norwegian Kr. 37.398, Austrian Sh. 22.106, Italian lira (100) 15.856, Yen (100) 213.488, Spanish Peseta 1.849, Portuguese Escudo 1.543.

    (M.P.)


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