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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-02-08

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, 08/02/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Farmers to decide course, gov't remains firm
  • January CPI inflation down to 6.8 percent
  • National Bank announces new lower interest rates
  • Simitis: Gov't remains firm on positions regarding FYROM
  • Internet link to be inaugurated by premier
  • Solana to visit Greece in February
  • US continues 7:10 ration in military aid to Turkey, Greece
  • Ombudsman draft bill tabled
  • Slovak consulate in Thessaloniki
  • 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 said.

    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 1974''.

    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 to take.

    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 communications.

    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 are falling''.

    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 dispatch.

    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 said.

    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 enlargement.

    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 by Parliament.

    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 this sector.

    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 local entities.

    The post of honorary consul general was assumed by Kalamaria Mayor Thrasyvoulos Lazaridis.

    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 Australia said.

    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.

    WEATHER

    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.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    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

    (M.S.)


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