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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-12-06

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, 06/12/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Farmers reject Premier's plea, vow to expand blockades
  • Athens' interest in Bosnia's reconstruction reiterated
  • Athens told of Moscow's interest in Cyprus problem solution process
  • Athens rejects Sate Department statement
  • Gligorov commends Simitis, FYROM talks again postponed
  • Papantoniou warns of a 'difficult year' for all
  • Italy to launch initiative on Cyprus problem soon

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Defiant farmers demanding better prices and increased subsidies for their produce rejected a plea from Prime Minister Simitis to immediately end a nine-day long blockade of the country's highways and railway networks which has caused heavy losess to state and private businesses.

    The protesting farmers said they would now expand their mobilisations on a nationwide level.

    "Under no circumstances will the government accept such behaviour," Mr. Simitis said adding that giving in to the farmers' demands would cost the state approximately one trillion drachmas.

    Transportation standstill

    According to reports, scores of trucks are now stranded in lines stretching for kilometres on the road to the Promahonas border crossing on the frontier with Bulgaria.

    Heated exchanges between stranded truck drivers, unable to go forwards or backwards, and protesting farmers in several instances threatened to develop into violence, which was averted with the intervention of the police.

    In a related development, three major industrial units in the Larisa prefecture have been forced to shut down temporarily due to shortages of fuel or raw materials caused by the blockades.

    At the same time, a further seven industrial firms which operate on a 24- hour basis are on the verge of shutting down because they have enough fuel for only two more days.

    GSEE, ADEDY

    General Confederation of Greece's Workers (GSEE) president Christos Polyzogopoulos told reporters after yesterday's meeting between Mr. Simitis and delegations from GSEE and the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) that "the premier did not answer positively to any of the specific demands which we put forward."

    Noting that the trade union delegations asked for a series of corrective measures to the government's economic policy, Mr. Polyzogopoulos said that the General Council of GSEE will hold a meeting on Tuesday to decide on further measures.

    Economic leaders

    An announcement signed by the presidents of the country's largest industrial groupings, including the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) president Jason Stratos, condemned the farmers' protests, saying it was "unacceptable for the Greek economy" to be ''used as a hostage by groups which decide to exert pressure on the state, breaking laws and preventing citizens from carrying on their activities unimpeded".

    The announcement called on the government and farmers to enter into a "substantial" dialogue, which would give long-term solutions to problems in the agricultural sector.

    Papandreou reiterates Athens' interest in Bosnia's reconstruction

    Proposals by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou for promotion of regional cooperation in the Balkans apparently met with a positive response, particularly from the Bulgarian delegate at yesterday's international conference here on Bosnia.

    "I gladly saw that my positions found positive response, and the Bulgarian representative supported the same elements," Mr. Papandreou said after the meeting at Lancaster House.

    In terms of regional cooperation, he dismissed fears that such a development spells a return to a status resembling the former Yugoslavia.

    AKEL delegation meets with premier

    Cyprus AKEL party Secretary General Dimitris Christofias met with Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday, briefing him on his party's views on initiatives underway on the Cyprus problem.

    Mr. Christofias informed Mr. Simitis of Moscow's interest in involving itself in processes to resolve the Cyprus issue in the framework of the UN.

    Athens rejects State Dept. statement

    The government said yesterday that it totally disagreed with the US position that Greek airspace was only six rather than 10 miles, in response to a recent statement by State Department spokesman.

    In a written reply to a US-based Greek reporter, spokesman Nicholas Burns said the State Department's position on the extent of Greek airspace was identical to that of the US Pentagon, which recognises only six miles.

    "Greek airspace has since 1931 been fixed at 10 miles, "government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, adding that "Greece protects its sovereign rights within this airspace."

    "The Greek position on the issue of airspace remains unchanged,he stressed.

    Gligorov commends Simitis

    The president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Kiro Gligorov, yesterday commented on his meeting earlier in the week with Prime Minister Costas Simitis saying that it "boosted the mutual respe ct and trust of the two countries," and described it as having been "a civilised and courageous act of Prime Minister Simitis."

    Meanwhile, a resumption of talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) under the auspices of UN mediator Cyrus Vance, has been postponed until Dec. 17 due to health problems faced by Mr. Vance.

    WEU Parliamentary Assembly endorses Greek report

    The Parliamentary Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU) yesterday unanimously endorsed Greek deputy Mihalis Liapis' report on the future role of the WEU proposing the consolidation of the inviolability of borders and the territorial integrity of the European Union and the speeding up of procedures for a Cyprus-EU accession.

    Ninth graders issue 'Greek-European' dictionary

    Fifty pupils from the ninth grade at a junior high school in the Agios Athanasios community near Thessaliniki have composed and published the first-ever "Greek-European" dictionary.

    The "Ellino-Evropaikon Lexikon" as it is called, contains 5,000 words of a Greek origin that are included in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish and Dutch.

    The dictionary was published with funds provided by parents and the community with the purpose of distributing the publication to Eurodeputies of all European Union member-states.

    The Macedonia and Thrace ministry, after learning of the pupuls' initiative, will undertake the cost of sending 626 copies to the members of the Europarliament.

    Papantoniou warns of a 'difficult year'

    " 1997 will be difficult for everybody, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told the parliamentary committee discussing the new state budget yesterday morning.

    Next year, Mr. Papantoniou said, will be difficult not only for the affluent - targetted by the government to bear the brunt of its new economic measures - but for all social groups.

    Mr. Papantoniou said the targets so far had been attained "100 percent in the containment of deficits, in inflation by 80 percent and in growth by 140 percent."

    The new budget, he added, " is one of growth, European convergence and social cohesion".

    He stressed that the budget is freezing indirect taxation which affects mainly those on low incomes, and that the fight against tax evasion continues.

    Privatisation efforts accelerated

    The Organisation for the Rehabilitation of Ailing Enterprises (OAE) appears determined to accelerate privatisation procedures for the loss-making businesses it is managing.

    Specifically, the receiver of the Peiraiki Patraiki textiles group's assets will be officially declared at the end of next week.

    Meanwhile, a court decision issued yesterday rejected a motion sumbitted by businessman Panagiotis Zeritis, the owner of the Thrace Paper Mills, who had asked for an injunction against an OAE decision for an improvement of offers for Peiraiki Patraiki.

    Despite the ruling, Mr. Zeritis continues to be the highest bidder for the textile company's facilities at Varibobi, for which he has already bid 1.8 billion drachmas.

    The development ministry is now studying the final proposals by OAE and guarantor banks for privatisation of the Athinaiki Paper Mill (Softex), Kerafina and Elefsina Bauxite, among others.

    Black Sea nation academics to meet in Athens

    The foreign and development ministries are organising a conference of Black Sea countries' academics, scheduled to be held in Athens next week the first of its kind to be held since the forming of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation (BSEC) It includes cooperation between the scientific and technological forces of the 11 member-states and the seven observer countries.

    The conference is expected to constitute an important step in determining sectors for social activities, new agricultural technologies, protection of the environment and communications.

    Port workers suspend nationwide strike

    Port workers throughout the country have suspended a strike they began on Nov. 27 following an assurance by Prime Minister Costas Simitis that their productivity bonus will not be abolished.

    After a five-hour meeting, the workers decided to call off the strike until Feb. 1, 1997.

    Italy to launch initiative on Cyprus problem soon

    Italy is expected to launch a diplomatic initiative regarding settlement of the Cyprus problem which is possibly going to start with the visit of Italian President Luigi Scalfaro to Nicosia in the next few weeks, Italian Foreign Undersecretary Piero Fasino told Parliament.

    "A diplomatic initiative is being promoted, which in the next few days will become more substantive with the visit (of Mr. Scalfaro)," Mr. Fasino said.

    He said Mr. Scalfaro's visit to the island republic aimed at assessing possibilities from both sides for a resumption of talks.

    Meanwhile, Democratic Left Deputy Marco Petsoni called on the Italian government to coordinate its position with the European Parliament and not take any step in the direction of the EU-Turkey customs union prior to resolving the Cyprus, the Kurdish and the human rights issue.

    Laliotis, metro consortium due to discuss latest construction delays

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis is due to hold talks over the next 10 days with the consortium undertaking construction of the Athens metro.

    Talks are expected to concern technical solutions for resumption of operations by the two massive boring machines underneath the Karaiskaki and Syntagma squares, which have stopped tunnelling.

    This development was announced yesterday after a meeting between Mr. Laliotis, Attiko Metro President Leonidas Kikiras and a delegation of Metro workers, who marched to the ministry to request revocation of 250 recent dismissals.

    However, reports state that the fired workers will not be rehired since the consortium maintains that they have completed the work of their speciality and that the next stages of the project requires the hiring of other specialists.

    Metro workers are requesting to stay on and be employed wherever possible, saying that they are being used by the consortium as a "pressure lever" to achieve further financial benefits from the Greek state.

    WEATHER

    Weather improvement is forecast in most parts of the country with rising temperatures. Athens will be overcast with occasional sunshine and temperatures ranging from 9-17C. Thessaloniki will be mostly sunny with temperatures ranging from 4-13C. The rest of the country will be sunny, with occasional clouds, and winds light to moderate.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates (buying) U.S. dlr 243.417, Can. dlr.179.393, Australian dlr. 194.219, Pound sterling 396.125, Irish punt 397.891, Cyprus pd 516.534, French franc 46.225, Swiss franc 184.919 Belgian franc 7.577, German mark 156.141, Finnish mark 52.316, Dutch guilder 139.207, Danish Kr. 40.789, Swedish Kr. 35.785, Norwegian Kr. 37.468, Austrian Sh. 22.196, Italian lira (100) 15.890, Yen (100) 216.196, Spanish Peseta 1.857, Portuguese Escudo 1.548.

    (C.E.)


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