Official trade delegation to visit Australia
NEWS IN DETAIL
Farmers to decide course, gov't remains firm
The government will not allow protesting farmers to block roads and will
never give in to blackmail, Prime Minister Costas Simitis told Parliament
yesterday, just hours after police deflated the tyres of about 1,500
tractors in central Greece.
Meanwhile, following an appeal by the Pan-Thessaly Coordinating Committee,
farmers were expected yesterday to suspend their mobilisations for the
night. The protesting farmers, along with several Thessaly deputies who
were called on to attend the meeting, are scheduled to reconvene at the
Microthives junction on Farsala Avenue.
On his part, the premier said all the necessary measures had been taken
along the entire length of the Athens-Thessaloniki national road and
traffic was moving normally.
He described farmers' efforts to block roads as an extreme form of protest
which was being attempted ''by just a few''.
''It is an authoritarian form, the interests of the few, and the government
has the obligation to enforce the relevant provisions of the Constitution
and the law and ensure the smooth functioning of democracy,'' Simitis
The premier was replying to a question tabled by Communist Party of Greece
(KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, who described the present
government as ''the worst government of violence and terrorism since
Police deflated the tyres of tractors parked in a 5-kilometre line at
Almyros to prevent farmers from using them to block the highway.
Main opposition New Democracy party deputies Nikos Katsaros and George
Sourlas described the police action as ''sabotage'' with legal consequences
for those responsible.
Farmers are scheduled to hold a rally at Almyros at 17.00 local time today
to protest the stance of the government and police. After the rally, the
protesting farmers' coordinating committee will meet to decide what action
Describing the police action as ''resourceful'', government spokesman
Dimitris Reppas stressed that it was not arbitrary and was carried out in
the presence of a public prosecutor.
Asked to comment on the action of the police in preventing the filming of
the operation by television crews, Reppas replied:
''The work of the Greek police is not done for the sake of television.''
The spokesman clarified that the prime minister was not aware of the
details of the police operation.
January CPI inflation down to 6.8 per cent
Inflation dropped to 6.8 per cent in January to reach the lowest point in
25 years, according to figures released yesterday by the National
Statistics Service (NSS).
In January 1996 inflation stood at 8.4 per cent.
The drop was the result of a 0.5 per cent reduction in the Consumer Price
Index in January, compared to 0.1 per cent in January 1996.
The CPI decrease was due to reductions in the prices of clothing and
footwear, durable consumer goods and household items. In contrast,
increases were recorded in the categories of housing, transport and
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou described the
drop in inflation as a significant development for the economy ''since it
affords protection for low incomes while at the same time interest rates
National Bank announces new lower interest rates
The National Bank of Greece yesterday announced new reduced interest rates
which will take effect as of Monday February 10: 1. Lending -The main
interest rate for working capital 16.50 per cent (from 16.75 per cent). -
The main interest rate for fixed installations 14.75 per cent (from 15 per
cent). The above interest rates fluctuate in accordance with profit margins
and as a result they are shaped at very competitive levels for the bank's
good and solvent clients. 2. Consumer credit -Consumer loans 22.50 per
cent (from 22.75 per cent). -Personal loans 23.75 per cent (from 24
per cent). -Credit cards 25.75 per cent (from 26 per cent). 3. Deposits
-Savings bank deposits 10 per cent (from 10.25 per cent). -Current accounts
8.50 per cent (from 8.75 per cent).
Simitis: Gov't remains firm on positions regarding FYROM
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the government remained
steadfast in its positions regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia (FYROM) name issue as decided during a political party leaders'
summit presided by then president of t he republic Constantine Karamanlis.
Mr. Simitis added that the government remained committed to the provisions
of the interim agreement signed between the two neighbours in 1995 in an
effort to normalise relations.
Stressing that the government is seeking a name for FYROM which would be
mutually accepted by the two states, he went on to say that "we will not
accept a name containing the term 'Macedonia' or its derivative."
"...If Skopje refuses, then (UN envoy for the Skopje issue Cyrus) Vance may
table the mandate without a name," Mr. Simitis said, forecasting that this
could result in the waiving of the temporary name of FYROM and that Skopje
could be addressed as "Macedo nia."
He added that "nobody wishes such a development," stressing that "all of us
should struggle to avert it."
Internet link to be inaugurated by premier in New York
Prime Minister Costas Simitis will inaugurate an electronic network linking
overseas Greeks with Greece through the internet, Overseas Greek Secretary
General Stavros Lambrinidis told a press conference in New York, on
Thursday, according to an ANA dispatch.
Mr. Lambrinidis said that through the network expatriate Greeks will have
access to information regarding legislation on issues related to overseas
and repatriated Greeks, as well as information regarding the rights and
responsibilities of expatriate Greeks.
The network also gives expatriates the possibility to communicate from
region to region and from country to country.
Turning to other issues Mr. Lambrinidis said the promotion of national
issues called for a "systematic and often scientific approach, knowledge
and sensitivity in their handlings, according to the audience.
Solana to visit Greece in late February
NATO Secretary General Javier Solana will visit Greece on Feb. 23, sources
at NATO headquarters in Brussels said yesterday, according to an ANA
One topic on the agenda is expected to be tensions between Greece and
fellow NATO member Turkey, the same sources said.
Another issue for discussion may be the situation in Cyprus, the sources
A security concept acceptable to both Greeks and Turks on the island could
also be discussed, they added.
A senior NATO official, who did not wish to be identified, said the
alliance was taking "very seriously" Ankara's threat earlier this week to
veto expansion of NATO unless Turkey was admitted to the European Union in
accordance with a 1987 application f or EU membership.
Meanwhile, during his official visit in Turkey this past week, the NATO
secretary general reportedly expressed his concern with the continued
confrontation in Cyprus and the consequences which this may entail for the
entir e "security structure" in Europe, according to diplomatic sources, an
ANA dispatch from Instanbul said.
He made the comments after a 24-hour visit this week to Turkey, which
focused on Greek-Turkish relations, escalating tensions in Cyprus and NATO
Sources said Mr. Solana appears unconcerned with the possibility of a
Turkish veto to NATO enlargement, despite public statements Thursday by
Turkish President Suleyman Demirel and Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan,
who linked NATO enlargement to the inc lusion of Turkey in a list of
potential candidates for EU accession.
US continues 7:10 ratio in military aid to Turkey, Greece
The Clinton administration yesterday unveiled its 1997 budget for
Congressional approval, which continues a 7:10 ratio of military aid to
Greece and Turkey and includes a $15 million aid package for Cyprus, a ANA
dispatch said from Washington.
The US administration's proposed budget for fiscal 1997 includes $135
million in loans and grants as well as $200,000 in scholarships for Greece.
Conversely, $260 million is provided for Turkey, of which $50 million is in
the form of an aid package.
Ombudsman draft bill tabled
The interior ministry yesterday tabled in Parliament a draft bill on the
establishment of the institution of a public administration commissioner or
ombudsman to operate as an independent authority in arbitrating problems
between citizens and the state.
The "Consumer Advocate" will have a five-year mandate and will be selected
Speaking at a press conference, Interior, Public Administration and
Decentralization Minister Alekos Papadopoulos said the tabling of the draft
bill was based on research and data processing by the ministry, the cabinet,
and other agencies.
An ombudsman institution exists in 82 nations, including 27 in Europe.
Mr. Papadopoulos emphasised that the existing state administration could
not respond to the needs of the Economic and Monetary Union, adding that by
the year 2000 Greece must go along with the remaining European countries in
Mr. Papadopoulos said the government aimed to implement reforms in state
administration in 1997.
Slovak consulate in Thessaloniki
Slovakia yesterday opened a consulate in Thessaloniki.
The official opening ceremony was attended by Macedonia-Thrace Minister
Philippos Petsalnikos, Slovakian ambassador to Greece Jan Valko, Thessaloniki
Mayor Costas Kosmopoulos, deputies and representatives of Thessaloniki
The post of honorary consul general was assumed by Kalamaria Mayor
Official trade delegation to visit Australia
An official Greek trade delegation, headed by National Economy Undersecretary
Alekos Baltas, will visit Australia from March 19-26, an ANA dispatch from
The mission will visit Adelaide and Melbourne where, apart from official
contacts, it will also have meetings with businessmen and take part in
events organised by the Greek community to celebrate Greek Independence Day
on March 25.
Strong winds, low temperatures and sleet will be the main characteristics
of today's weather. Snow will fall in the mountainous regions of central
Greece, while sleet and scattered showers will prevail in the rest of the
country. Winds will be northeasterly, strong to gale force. Sleet is
forecast for Athens where temperatures will range from 3-7C. Temperatures
in Thessaloniki will be between -2C and 5C. A gradual improvement in the
weather is expected from tomorrow.
Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 258.773
Pound sterling 422.294 Cyprus pd 519.808
French franc 46.128 Swiss franc 180.132
German mark 155.625 Italian lira (100) 15.838
Yen (100) 208.419 Canadian dlr. 191.218
Australian dlr. 196.728 Irish Punt 413.228
Belgian franc 7.544 Finnish mark 52.457
Dutch guilder 138.597 Danish kr. 40.791
Swedish kr. 34.895 Norwegian kr. 39.650
Austrian sch. 22.114 Spanish peseta 1.839
Portuguese escudo 1.549