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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-12-05

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, 05/12/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis stresses Greece`s interest in EU`s territorial integrity, external borders
  • Farmers reject govt. proposals, roadblocks continue
  • Moratorium on Cyprus overflights discussed, no decision taken
  • Legislation to improve national health system unveiled
  • E.O.T. accused of mismanaging its assets
  • E.M.U. accession imperative for Greece's prosperity
  • Greek-Turkish business council to meet in Athens Tuesday
  • Berlin to host new Greek cinema festival

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Premier calls for E.U. territorial integrity

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday assured his European Union counterparts of Greece's readiness to contribute to the solution of problems concerning other European peoples, but stressed that solidarity, joint action and cooperation were required towards consolidating the 15- member Union's territorial integrity and the building of a new Europe.

    "I wish to stress the importance attributed by Greek public opinion to the need for our joint action and cooperation to be aimed towards the consolidation of security and the safeguarding of the Union's territorial integrity and its external borders," he said in a letter addressed to the leaders of the other 14 member-states in view of the Dublin summit scheduled for Dec. 12-14.

    He emphasised the burden of the country's foreign affairs problems on its ability to follow the course towards integration.

    "Unfortunately, Greece is facing great difficulties in responding to certain issues of integration. One of the basic causes of these diffculties is the continuing aggressive behaviour of our neighbouring country, Turkey, which remains a factor of desta bilisation in the broader region and threat to Greece`s sovereign rights.

    "This situation inescapably affects Greece's positions and options in a series of other issues. For instance, our obligation to adopt a new armaments programme, which constitutes an additional annual burden exceeding 1 per cent of GDP on a medium-term basis, renders almost impossible the attainment of Maastricht criteria in time. This same cause affects our positions regarding the Inter-Governmental Conference, e.g., on issues of external policy and defence," the prime minister continued.

    He also stated Greece's support for the enlargement of the Union.

    Mr. Simitis stressed that attention must be given to the employment problem, environmental protection, internal security and democracy, as well as equality of member-states in the institutional sector.

    Farmers reject gov't proposals

    Two-hour talks between Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas and farmers' representatives yesterday to end week-long protests and barricades on motorways throughout the country collapsed after the representatives rejected the government's proposals.

    Mr. Tzoumakas said the entire problem arising with the blockades can only be resolved with political initiatives, but did not elaborate. Mr. Tzoumakas once again referred to the 10 proposals budgeted at 136 billion drachmas, adding that the state budget cannot tolerate further expenditures.

    Dozens of road junctions on the national and rural road network remain blockaded from Evros to the Peloponnese, while in many regions railway lines have also been blocked.

    In Thessaloniki, movement to and from Macedonia airport was possible only by side-roads after farmers blocked access to the main road.

    Thessaloniki-area merchants at the central food market said foodstuffs would start to dwindle on Sunday if the blockade continued. Citrus fruits, mainly from Crete and the Peloponnese, are already in short supply.

    Moratorium on military overflights of Cyprus discussed

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides have discussed the possibility of a moratorium on military overflights of Cyprus but no decision was reached, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas emphasised yesterday.

    Mr. Reppas said the proposal for a suspension of military flights over the island republic was an older proposal by US State Department official Carey Cavanaugh, which the US diplomat again reiterated in Lisbon.

    The Greek government spokesman reiterated that the responsibility for such a decision lay exclusively with Nicosia, adding that a moratorium could be seen in a positive light as part of a collective proposal on Cyprus.

    Mr. Reppas said such a moratorium will not have any effect on the joint defence doctrine agreed to between Greece and Cyprus.

    Greece, Bulgaria sign military cooperation agreement

    The military chiefs of Greece and Bulgaria yesterday signed a bilateral defence cooperation programmes agreement for 1997.

    The agreement was signed by the Chief of the National Defence General Staff, Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis, and his Bulgarian counterpart, Gen. Tsvetan Bladenov Totomirov.

    Gen. Totomirov described the new programme as a continuation of the beneficial cooperation between the armed forces of Greece and Bulgaria, underlining that for the first time it provided for joint exercises with the participation of all military branches.

    Legislation to improve national health system unveiled

    The health ministry hopes to improve the operation of the National Health System (ESY) with 12 points included in a bill that will probably be tabled in Parliament before the holidays.

    According to the new settlements announced by Health Minister Costas Geitonas at a press conference yesterday, the concept of a unified health agency is being abandoned for the time being, which would constitute the precursor for unification of the health sectors of at least four major health insurance providers, such as IKA, OGA, TEBE and the public sector.

    Mr. Geitonas said a new coordinating agency will be created, which will cooperate with all funds.

    He added that a public health and school medicine doctors branch will be initiated, while a centre will be created for research and control of the quality of tests and medical initiatives.

    On the question of the better organisation of hospitals, which have debts amounting to 140 billion drachmas for pharmaceuticals and consumable materials, Mr. Geitonas said this debt will not be confronted with lending or increasing hospital fees.

    Thrace region reeling from flood damage

    At least four villages in Xanthi prefecture remained cut off as all access roads have been either destroyed or blocked by mud from recent floods.

    Army helicopters are airlifting provisions and other necessities to residents in the isolated villages, while prefectural teams are working on opening the roads and repairing the electricity and water networks.

    According to prefectural authorities in Thrace, residents made homeless by the storms are being housed in various institutions. However, the recording of damages to crops will be delayed as much of the land is still under water.

    Authorities in the region said the next 24 hours will be crucial - if rainfall continues in southern Bulgaria, the Evros River will almost certainly overflow.

    EOT employee groups say state organisation mismanaging its assets

    A one-day seminar by Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) employee groups presented evidence yesterday on what they termed unsatisfactory use of EOT's properties and assets.

    The groups, representing about 2,500 EOT employees, called on Development Minister Vasso Papandreou to suspend her ministry's plans for what they called "covert and unscheduled" sales.

    EOT Secretary General Vassilis Kourtesis assured the state organisation's employees that the government aims for "a dynamic, autonomous EOT", and that any reorganisation plans will not affect their insurance rights.

    According to EOT workers' representatives, the state organisation's properties includes 325 sites with a total area of roughly 90,000 stremmata throughout the country, while 15 of these sites are more than 1,000 stremmata each.

    Tourist facilities such as golf courses, hotels, museums, campsites and marinas, have been constructed on 150 of these properties, they said.

    EOT directly manages 72 of the properties, employing roughly 1,800 individuals on a permanent basis. Since 1995, these enterprises have recorded total losses of about 50 million drachmas.

    Private enterprises lease 210 of the properties, while 62 have been given free of charge to municipalities, communities and other bodies throughout the country.

    EMU accession imperative for nation's prosperity

    National Bank Governor Theodoros Karatzas yesterday stressed the importance of Greece's accession to the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and stressed the need to achieve the Union's targets, saying that if Greece does not achieve entry to the EMU then it "will find itself in a very difficult position and the final result will be that the standard of living conditions will fall dramatically."

    Mr. Karatzas ruled out the possibility of raising interest rates following increased taxation of the banks' income.

    Gov`t submits tax draft bill to Parliament

    The government's new tax draft bill abolishing more than 200 tax exemptions and introducing other taxes was yesterday submitted to Parliament's legislative committee.

    The tax exemptions being abolished include those hitherto in force for the President of the Republic, Parliament deputies and journalists, and those granted for medical and hospital expenses to individuals earning more than 15 million drachmas annually.

    New taxes will be levied on real estate owned by natural or legal persons irrespective of nationality or place of residence, worth more than 60 million drachmas.

    The assets of mutual fund and portfolio investment companies will be taxed at 0.2 per cent . Interest earned from state securities issued after Jan. 1, 1997 will be subject to a 7.5 per cent tax rate.

    Foreign currency deposits - convertible or not - of permanent residents will be subject to a 15 per cent tax, but those of residents abroad are exempted.

    The rate is also applicable to convertible drachma deposits of permanent residents, bonds issued by Greek investment banks and bought by banks operating in Greece, and to interest earned from securities issued by municipal authorities.

    Joint Greek-Turkish business council to meet in Athens

    Roughly 65 members of the Council of Greek-Turkish Business Cooperation are to meet in Athens on Tuesday.

    "The development of close economic relations help us overcome political difficulties," Rahmi Koc, a well-known Turkish industrialist,said yesterday.

    "Our commercial trade with Greece is at the level of US$400 million. If this was at $2billion, politcians would have a hard time disrupting the relations of the two countries so much," Mr. Koc added.

    Yugoslav trade exhibit opens in Athens

    The first-ever Yugoslav economic exhibition organised in Greece opened in Athens yesterday afternoon and will last until Saturday.

    The exhibition was opened by the president of the Federation of Greek and Industrial Chambers of Commerce of Greece, Andreas Kyriazis, and by the president of the Yugoslav Industrial Chamber of Commerce Mihailo Milojevic.

    Berlin to host festival of new Greek cinema this month

    A festival of new Greek cinema will be held in Berlin from December 7-23, organised in cooperation with the Friends of the German Film Archives and the support of the Greek Film Centre. The festival will include screenings of "From the snow" by Sotiritis Goritca (December 7 and 16), "Donoussa" by Angeliki Antoniou (December 8 and 18), "Metaihmio" by Panos Karkanevatou (December 9 and 19), "Lefteris Dimakopoulos" by Pericles Hoursoglou (December 10 and 20), "Jaguar" by Katerina Evangelakou (December 11 and 21), "The end of an era" by Antonis Kokkinos (December 16 and 22) and "Drop in the ocean" by Eleni Alexandraki (December 18 and 23).

    WEATHER

    Further weather improvement is forecast as of today in most parts of the country with rising temperatures. Strong winds in the Aegean sea will die down. Athens will be partly cloudy with temperatures ranging from 8-16C. Thessaloniki will also be partly cloudy and rainy with temperatures ranging from 6-12C. The rest of the country will be sunny to partly cloudy.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates (buying) U.S. dlr 243.159, Can. dlr.179.850, Australian dlr. 194.020, Pound sterling 401.185, Irish punt 402.137, Cyprus pd 516.832, French franc 45.096, Swiss franc 183.852 Belgian franc 7.559, German mark 155.813, Finnish mark 52.219, Dutch guilder 138.880, Danish Kr. 40.716, Swedish Kr. 35.781, Norwegian Kr. 37.359, Austrian Sh. 22.143, Italian lira (100) 15.844, Yen (100) 214.718, Spanish Peseta 1.851, Portuguese Escudo 1.545.

    (C.E.)


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