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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-02-16

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, 16/02/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Defence Minister announces restructuring of forces
  • Undersecretary calls for EU-US initative
  • Ministers explain social security amendment
  • Finance Minister warns of "shock policy" reforms
  • Opposition to social security fund amendment
  • Teachers want meeting with Minister
  • Foreigners arrested passing counterfeit notes
  • Historic Cretan town to get facelift
  • Museum robbery
  • Strike to close shops tomorrow

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Defence Minister announces restructuring of forces

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said that the government had decided to restructure the armed forces and implement a new defence strategy to confront the disputing of Greece's sovereign rights by neighbouring Turkey.

    Speaking in Thessaloniki last night, he said that the strategy of deterrence implemented to date would be supplemented with the concept of ''flexible response'' which would, in the event of an aggressive act, ''have the highest possible cost for the other side''.

    ''In order to attain these targets,'' he said, ''we shall work towards securing the necessary conditions, such as the reorganisation of the armed forces, the procurement of modern defence equipment and modern training.''

    Tsohatzopoulos spoke of the creation of a special rapid response force characterized by flexibility, mobility, heavy firepower and readiness.

    The element of flexibility, he added, would be achieved through the cooperation of the three services of the armed forces, with a particular role for special forces units.

    Undersecretary calls for EU-US initiative

    Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis today called on the US and EU to undertake an initiative on the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish differences.

    In an interview with a Sunday paper, Kranidiotis said the outstanding problem of Cyprus and the dangers inherent in the crisis in Greek-Turkish relations created additional responsibilities for the international community and particularly the US and EU which should undertake an initiative to resolve the problems on the basis of international law and agreements.

    Ministers explain social security amendment

    A proposed amendment to the law on social security funds will not change the existing status of the funds' reserves, according to a joint statement today by National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou and Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou.

    The announcement explained that the amendment in question was an administrative move aimed at improving returns on those reserves which are already deposited in the Bank of Greece. There had been strong reaction against an announcment yesterday at the amendment, according to which social security funds would be required to deposit their reserve capital with the Bank of Greece.

    The General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and the Federation of Bank Unions (OTOE) had both criticised the amendment.

    Today's announcement clarified that the amendment provides for further opportunities for increasing the returns on the reserves, for the benefit of the funds and those insured with them.

    Interior Minister warns of "shock policy" reforms

    Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos today restated the government's determination not to give in to social pressure and to persist in its economic convergence programme.

    In an interview with a Sunday paper, Papadopoulos came out in favour of a ''shock policy'' consisting of ''a comprehensive package of reforms in all sectors''.

    As teachers prepared to continue their strike for the fifth consecutive week tomorrow, Papadopoulos said that the preservation of vested rights went contrary to the course of the country in the framework of the new globalised economy.

    ''In economic policy matters there are no hardliners and wets, just reliable and unreliable,'' Papadopoulos said.

    Opposition to social security fund amendment

    An amendment to the law on social security funds tabled by the National Economy Ministry is likely to cause problems between the government and the country's trade unions. The amendment requires the funds to deposit their reserve capital with the Bank of Greece.

    According to Saturday's edition of the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia", the capital could amount to more than one trillion drachmas.

    General Confederation of Trade Unions (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos said the amendment was unacceptable and asked for it to be withdrawn. He also stressed that GSEE would in no way accept an increase in the age of retirement or a drop in pensions.

    Bank unions' federation (OTOE) President Dimitris Kouselas characterised the issue as extremely serious. The banks' social security funds have particularly large reserves. Kouselas also called for the withdrawal of the amendment, emphasising that the funds were claiming free movement of reserves.

    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Costas Simitis will meet most likely tomorrow with Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou to discuss an amendment to the law on social security funds introduced by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

    According to informed sources, Papaioannou has also expressed his strong opposition to the amendment to Papantoniou.

    Teachers want meeting with Minister

    The president of the union of high school teachers (OLME) Nikos Tsoulias requested a meeting today with Education Minister Gerassimos Arsenis in an effort to end the ongoing strike which enters its fifth consecutive week tomorrow.

    Tsoulias made the request during an interview with an Athens radio station.

    The striking teachers have organised protest rallies and marches in Athens tomorrow morning and in the northern port city of Thessaloniki later in the afternoon.

    Meanwhile, primary school and kindergarten teachers were scheduled to begin a third week of strike action on Monday.

    Political party leaders will discuss problems in the education sector during a parliamentary debate on Wednesday.

    Foreigners arrested passing counterfeit notes

    Four Ukrainians and a Moldavian have been arrested for passing counterfeit 10,000 drachma notes on the market. Oleg Andriasko, 27, was arrested trying to shop with one of the notes in Athens' Varvakeio market. The shopkeeper realised the note was counterfeit and called police, who arrested Andriasko after finding another ten counterfeit notes in his possession.

    After a search of his home, where he lived with Luba Anoupreia, 37, Igor and Maria Fostich, both 32, and Eugeni Savraduze, 36, all illegal immigrants, all five were arrested after another 71 counterfeit notes were found there.

    Andriasko claimed to have bought over one million dr. worth of counterfeit 10,000 dr. notes for the sum of $30, from a Bulgarian named Anton a week ago in Omonia Square.

    In a separate incident, an Iranian, Mehran Sadik, 20, was arrested after trying to buy a ring from a jewellery shop in Syntagma Square with a counterfeit $100 bill. Sadik ran off with the ring when one of the salesman went next door to change the bill, but was apprehended by a nearby policeman.

    Historic Cretan town to get facelift

    The old sector of the Cretan town of Rethymno is to receive a 8.6 billion dr. facelift, Environment Minister Kostas Laliotis announced at the official opening of the new public works programme there yesterday.

    Lalitios said the plan includes preserving the cultural heritage and architectural character of all historic periods represented in the old city, while promoting tourism in the surrounding prefecture as well as in the city itself.

    Museum robbery

    Four masked gunmen robbed the Ramnounda Museum at Marathon, outside Athens last night after striking the guard and then tying him up. The men broke into the museum building and got away with a small statue of a nymph.

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, in a statement today on the incident, admitted there were deficiencies in the security systems at museums and referred to the Ministry's efforts to rectify the situation. Only a month ago, a plan was approved to installation of a new electricity and security system at Ramnounda.

    Strike to close shops tomorrow

    A large number of shops in Athens and around the country are expected to remain closed tomorrow as they participate in the 24-hour nationwide strike called by the Confederation of Professionals, Craft Industry and Tradesmen (GSEBE).

    The strike has been called over grievances related to fiscal legislation, financing issues, provisions on business premises, working hours and unfair competition.

    SPORT

    Promising international basketball player Efthymis Retzias of PAOK, Thessaloniki has announced that he has received a transfer offer from NBA team Denver Nuggets. The 19-year-old centre told reporters last night that he also had offers from a number of Greek teams but that PAOK would have the last word regarding the next step in his career. In soccer, Kastoria was defeated by Kavala 0-1, OFI scored three goals against Xanthi, Panathinaikos defeated Panachaiki 2-0. Kalamata is to play Olympiakos tomorrow, while results of the AEK-Heracles and the PAOK- Apollon matches are expected later this evening.

    WEATHER

    Cloudy weather and rain later this evening in mainland areas. For Sunday, weather will be cloudy and wet with local downpours, particularly in the west, later extending to the rest of the country. Snow is expected in moutainous regions to the north. The same conditions are expected on Monday. Temperatures in Athens on Monday will range between 17-12C, in Thessaloniki between 3-9C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates - buying US dlr. 260.598 Pound sterling 424.636 Cyprus pd 519.411 French franc 45.872 Swiss franc 180.083 German mark 154.891 Italian lira (100) 15.757 Yen (100) 209.987 Canadian dlr. 192.488 Australian dlr. 200.543 Irish Punt 413.466 Belgian franc 7.508 Finnish mark 52.524 Dutch guilder 138.057 Danish kr. 40.648 Swedish kr. 35.365 Norwegian kr. 39.269 Austrian sch. 22.001 Spanish peseta 1.828 Portuguese escudo 1.540

    (Y.B.)


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