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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-12-07

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, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov't refuses to give in to farmers' demands
  • Opposition criticises handling by government, prime minister
  • Farmers' blockades remain in place
  • Inflation drops below 8 per cent mark for first time in 25 years
  • Greece responds favourably to IGC draft proposals
  • Turkish violations of Greek airspace continue unabated
  • Constantopoulos proposes 1997 be declared a year for inter-Balkan co- operation
  • 26 Iraqi illegal immigrants arrested on Symi

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Gov't refuses to 'sacrifice nation's efforts' to farmers' demands

    While no compromise solutions appeared forthcoming yesterday to end week- long farmers' blockades of national roadways, the government reiterated that it "cannot take measures that will be a burden on the budget."

    In referring to protesting farmers' demands, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said "If we accept farmers' demands we have sacrificed the efforts of the Greek people for this year."

    The blocking of national roads is blackmail and no government can succumb to blackmail, he added in Parliament.

    "We must all understand that the blocking of national roads is a form of blackmail which is being perpetrated against the Greek people. It endangers the employment and income of other workers and if it continues it will cause a chain reaction with reper cussions for all," Mr. Simitis said, replying to questions tabled by the leaders of the four opposition parties.

    "Nobody, in the name of the interests of his own sector, can impose his will on all," the premier said.

    Strong criticism from opposition parties

    On his part, main opposition party New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert claimed that the government was refusing dialogue with farmers, "acting with arrogance and disdain" and that the prime minister had personally lied to the farmers to gain their votes and was now trying to get one social group to turn against the other.

    "The government's farm policy leads to impasses and is ineffective," Mr. Evert said.

    KKE Secretary General Aleka Papariga accused the government of holding a "national spoon" which distributes money whenever it wants. She also accused the government of not abolishing tax breaks worth 600 bilion drachmas.

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos accused the prime minister of autocratic behaviour, saying the government was following a "callous" policy of "provocative social injustice".

    He asked the prime minister why the government had made a favourable resettlelemt of the debts of tax-evaders and could not do the same for the farmers.

    The president of the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), Dimitris Tsovolas, also condemned the prime minister for his "autocratic behaviour" and claimed that Mr. Simitis had "overstepped the people's mandate" and that he was only adding "fat to the fire " with his comments in Parliament.

    Blockades

    Farmers' roadblocks have mostly affected central and northern regions, particularly eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Epirus, and the islands of Corfu and Lefkada, while trucks have been blockaded for the sixth consecutive day at the border crossings of Proma honas, Kipoi, Kastanies and Ormenio, while Kavala international airport has also been cut off.

    No intrastate bus services to Athens, Thessaloniki and other major cities were carried out yesterday, with Olympic scheduling extra flights.

    The situation which has evolved so far is considered to be putting increased pressure on the Coordinating Committee of farmers by public opinion and various producers' groups, including certain categories of farmers of perishable goods.

    Nine business and producers' organisations (Association of Greek Industries , the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Northern Greece's Exporters' Association) yesterday issued a joint statement condemning the particular method of exercising pressure for eliciting solutions to problems, and are asking farmers to stop holding society hostage.

    The farmers' coordinating committee is meeting today to decide whether or not to escalate protest action.

    November inflation crashes 8 per cent barrier, falls to 7.7 per cent

    Greece's inflation rate dipped beneath the 8 per cent mark for November, the first time in more than 25 years.

    According to official figures released yesterday from the National Statistics Service (ESYE), inflation was calculated at an annualised rate of 7.7 per cent, down from 8.3 per cent in October.

    During the same month last year, inflation was running at 8.2 per cent, compared to 10.6 per cent in1994.

    ESYE said that the drop from 8.3 per cent in October to 7.7 per cent in November this year was due primarily to a reduction in the prices of fuel, fruit and hotel rates.

    These decreases, ESYE added, resulted in a 0.3 per cent reduction in the Consumer Price Index in November, compared to a 0.2 per cent increase in the same month of 1995.

    Greece responds favourably to Irish IGC draft proposals

    BRUSSELS (ANA - M. Spinthourakis) - Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who attended the EU Foreign Ministers' Council here yesterday, said "the new draft treaty of the European Union presented yesterday by the Irish presidency can constitute a positive basis for the beginning of negotiations for revision of the Maastricht Treaty."

    The Irish presidency's plan includes issues of particular interest for Greece, Mr. Pangalos noted, including respect of the integrity of member- states, and expression of solidarity between EU member-states.

    However, relations with Turkey and the signing of an economic and commercial cooperation agreement between the EU and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) were not discussed during yesterday's meeting.

    Speaking on yesterday's session, the foreign minister said Greece and Italy disagreed with the initial text of conclusions regarding the situation in the former Yugoslavia. Certain observations were changed following this disagreement, with the final text being approved by all.

    More Turkish violations of Greek airspace reported

    Turkish aircraft formations violated air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) and Greek national airspace on eight occasions yesterday between Lesvos and Hios, east of Rhodes and between Limnos and Lesvos, reports state.

    In all cases, the Turkish aircraft were intercepted and escorted out of Greek airspace by Hellenic Air Force fighter planes.

    Meanwhile, the Turkish military exercise codenamed "Gildirim Deniz" currently being carried out in international waters in the central Aegean is scheduled to end this morning.

    According to reports, yesterday's exercises were held off the coast of Skyros, outside Greek territorial waters.

    Constantopoulos urges Balkan co-operation

    Coaltion of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos today proposed to all Balkan governments that 1997 be declared a year for inter- Balkan co-operation.

    Addressing the two-day conference ''Women and the Balkans of the year 2000'' which opened today in Thessaloniki, Constantopoulos said he was putting forward the proposal so that inter-Balkan co-operation might become a ''mass movement'' in order for the region to develop into a crossroads for ''forms of international co-operation'' with the EU, the OSCE and other organisations.

    Constantopoulos said that the principles and objectives of such inter- Balkan co-operation should be incorporated in a framework along the lines of the Helsinki Final Act and become a permanent institution.

    Coastguard arrests 26 Iraqi illegal immigrants

    Twenty-six Iraqi illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin have been arrested by coastguard officers after landing on the island of Symi in two waves late last night.

    A Turkish speedboat first landed 16 illegal immigrants on the islet of Marmara, while a second craft shortly afterwards took a further 10 Iraqis to the area of Aghios Aimilianos.

    The illegal immigrants told coastguard officers that they had each paid 3, 000 US dollars to the owners of the two Turkish speedboats .

    The 15 men, 5 women and 6 children are being detained at Coastguard Headquarters on Symi and were due to appear before the public prosecutor later today.

    WEATHER

    Overcast with moderate winds in Attica, temperature 9-17C. Some cloud in Thessaloniki and light winds, temperature 0-19C. Clear weather expected in most of the country tomorrow with some cloud in western Greece.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    (Closing rates [buying] Friday 6 December)

    U.S. dlr 240.868, Can. dlr.176.497, Australian dlr. 192.160, Pound sterling 395.252, Irish punt 396.899, Cyprus pd 516.634, French franc 46.301, Swiss franc 184.844 Belgian franc 7.592, German mark 156.508, Finnish mark 52.417, Dutch guilder 139.530, Danish Kr. 40.884, Swedish Kr. 35.516, Norwegian Kr. 37.400, Austrian Sh. 22.243, Italian lira (100) 15.838, Yen (100) 214.421, Spanish Peseta 1.859, Portuguese Escudo 1.549.

    (S.S.)


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