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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-02-17

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, 17/02/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • 5.0% inflation and single-digit lending this year: minister
  • Iranian vice-president to visit Athens tomorrow
  • Self-styled guerrillas go on trial
  • Industrialists call for free hand in mass dismissals
  • Turkish captain fined for sea pollution
  • Northern Greek firms prepare for listing on bourse
  • Teachers call for new talks with education ministry
  • Four arrested in crackdown on 'barbaric' dogfights
  • Greece calls for immediate EU initiatives in the Balkans
  • Defence minister begins talks in Germany
  • Greece warns Turkey of territorial waters extension

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    5.0 % inflation and single-digit lending rates this year: minister

    An inflation rate of 5% plus single-digit interest rates were predicted by National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou in an interview in today's Ethnos newspaper.

    The Minister also promised there would be no fuel price increases, while price rises for public facilities would be minimal, that is, below the expected inflation rate, and would not be made before summer or early autumn.

    Papantoniou denied reports of an increase in the retirement age and reductions in pensions.

    "... reforms will be limited. Injustices and inequalities will be rectified, the funds' operation will be rationalised, along with the relationship between them," he explained.

    However, he declined to comment when asked a question on possible increases in social security contributions.

    While 1997 would be the "most difficult" year, he expressed the belief that the situation would ease slightly in 1998.

    Iranian vice-president to visit Athens tomorrow

    Iran's first Vice-President Hassan Habibi is due in Athens tomorrow on an official visit aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two countries, an ANA despatch from Teheran said today quoting the official IRNA news agency.

    According to IRNA, Iranian Foreign Undersecretary Mahmoud Vaezi said that Habibi's visit to Greece was aimed at ''developing Iranian-Greek relations in all sectors''.

    Vaezi said Habibi's talks in Athens would focus on political and economic issues and particularly the sale of Iranian oil to Greece.

    Self-styled guerrillas go on trial

    The trial of seven men charged with possession and transport of arms as members of the self-styled Northern Epirus Liberation Front (MAVI) began today in Korydallos prison.

    The Criminal Appeals Court is trying George Anastasoulis, Apostolos Karvelas, Freddy Peleris, George Christou, Mario Koutoulas and the brothers Haralambos and George Pappas. An eighth person, Angelos Kakavesis, is also being tried for concealing weapons.

    When the group were arrested in March 1995 they maintained they had found the weapons in a forest where they had gone hunting. They were subsequently acquitted of charges related to an incident which took place in April 1994 in Episkopi, Albania, when two Albanians were killed and three others wounded in an attack on a border post.

    Witnesses at today's trial include former Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias, former Public Order Minister Sifis Valyrakis, former Foreign Undersecretary and ND deputy Virginia Tsouderou as well as former intelligence service (EYP) head Leonidas Vasilikopoulos.

    Industrialists call for free hand in mass dismissals

    Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Iason Stratos today requested the abolition of the limit set for the number of workers who can be laid off in mass dismissals, during a meeting with Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou.

    The current limit for large companies is 2 per cent of the workforce, while the corresponding limit for small undertakings is 10 per cent.

    Stratos said that industrialists would be raising the issue within the framework of social dialogue.

    The request brought an immediate response from General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos.

    ''The trade unions will never accept the abolition or raising of the limit set for mass dismissals. On the contrary, they want the protection afforded by the 2% limit to be extended to smaller companies also,'' he said.

    Stratos and Papaioannou also discussed the rate of absorption of European Union funds and the organisation of social dialogue.

    Turkish captain fined for sea pollution

    Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis today imposed fines totalling 65 million drachmas for sea pollution, including one of 35 million drachmas on a Turkish captain.

    Ozbek Yurdal, the master of the Turkish-flagged freighter ''Sitarem'', and the company which owns the vessel were fined 35 million drachmas for causing pollution near the Cape of Spathi, Kythera after the Turkish ship collided with a Maltese-flagged vessel.

    The captain of the Maltese vessel and the owners were fined 30,000,000 drachmas after being found jointly and severally liable for the accident.

    Northern Greek companies prepare for listing on bourse

    Forty-two companies based in northern Greece have been included in the list drawn up by the Thessaloniki Stock Exchange Centre containing those undertakings which have the possibility of being admitted to the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The centre in Thessaloniki is conducting a study of companies based in the region, having as its criteria each company's equity capital, financial results and course over the last few years.

    The ongoing study has already considered 100 companies which at first glance satisfy formal requirements for admission to the Athens Bourse. Of these 42 were judged to fulfil prerequisites to a greater extent.

    The president of the Thessaloniki centre, George Petridis, stressed that the study was aimed at facilitating the companies and underwriters and in no way implied approval of some sort for their actual admission ''since the procedures for admission are clearly stipulated by the law and must be strictly adhered to''.

    Teachers call for new talks with education ministry

    The president of the union of high school teachers (OLME) Nikos Tsoulias has renewed an appeal to Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenia for a dialogue as the "only solution" to end the teachers' strike.

    In a press conference in Thessaloniki today, Tsoulias said that while teachers were determined to continue their struggle, they were willing to go back to work as soon as tomorrow if their appeal for dialogue was accepted.

    He contended that the government was incapable of taking a political approach to the crisis in the education system, preferring adminstrative solutions limited to creating an impression.

    On Wednesday the teachers will hold a protest rally in Athens and a march to Parliament and on Friday they are to publish a manifesto entitled "School for Culture and Education".

    Four arrested in crackdown on 'barbaric' dogfights

    Four people were arrested yesterday in the prefecture of Imathia for organising illegal gambling on dogfights to the death. Apostolos Baltzis, 45, Evstathios Apostolidis, 27, George Paraschos 41 and Konstantinos Tsouvalas, 44, were arrested when police raided the scene of a dogfight watched by about 100 people. Bets worth 550,000 dr. were confiscated, while the seriously injured dogs were given to relatives of the arrested men.

    Police said later that 16 people would eventually appear in court tomorrow charged with breaking the laws on gambling and the protection of animals.

    Apart from the four alleged organisers of the fights, 12 of the estimated 100 spectators were also charged today.

    All 16 will remain in custody at Verria police station until the trial.

    ''An unacceptable thing, which drags the country through the mire and vilifies the country internationally,'' main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert said today.

    Evert, a known animal lover who owns a chimpanzee, called for the imposition of harsh penalties.

    The scenes of the dogfights, captured on video and shown on nationwide news bulletins last night, have provoked revulsion among most Greeks.

    Unconfirmed reports from Thessaloniki said that the northern port city's Bar Association had asked its members not to undertake the defence of the accused.

    According to informed sources, three or four dogfights had been organised in Makrochori, Imathia during the last month alone.

    The same sources said that the organisers of the fights and the owners of the dogs received a 20 per cent cut from the betting.

    Greece calls for immediqate EU initiatives in the Balkans

    Two high-ranking government ministers and PASOK's party secretary on Saturday called for the European Union's "active support" of countries in the Balkans and creation of conditions of security for the entire region.

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and ruling PASOK party secretary Costas Skandalidis called for the EU initiative while addressing a two-day Athens meeting of the European socialist parties whic h comprise the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos spoke of a "security vacuum" in the Balkans caused by the collapse of communism and the EU's inability to put together a common foreign policy.

    "A new Marshall Plan is needed which would support democratisation," he said, adding that EU nations themselves should find a different model of development for the 15-member union," Mr.Tsohatzopoulos said.

    Mr. Papandreou appealed for immediate financial assistance to Albania and Bulgaria, "which are in the throes of a deep economic crisis" and the charting of a long-term EU policy for the Balkans.

    This policy, he added, should aim at ensuring respect for borders and minorities, economic and technical assistance, regional cooperation and the protection of human rights. On his part, Mr. Skandalidis said "Europe needs a strong Greece. We shall remain dedicated to the international rules of peaceful cooperation for a Europe stretching from the Urals to the Atlantic."

    He also called for "a social Europe of equal nations and sovereign peoples" to stand up against "the omnipotence of bank and stock exchange capital".

    Defence Minister begins talks in Germany

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos began a two-day official visit to Germany yesterday, during which he is scheduled to meet with his German counterpart Volker Ruhe.

    Discussions during the meeting, to be held here this afternoon, are expected to include tensions in Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and NATO's expansion eastwards.

    German participation in the Greek armed forces' armament programme is also expected to be dicussed, with German interest in the modernisation of Hellenic Air Force's F-4 "Phantom" fighters by the DASA company, and the possible supply of submarines from German shipyards.

    Greece warns Turkey of territorial waters extension

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos issued an indirect warning to Turkey last week that if Ankara caused any further "incidents" Greece would exercise its right to extend its territorial waters from six to 12 nautical miles.

    "In the event that Turkey causes a new (military) incident, the Greek response, apart from a military one, will also be political, a response which will maximise the cost for Ankara, will be proportionate to the seriousness of the provocation and will be within the framework of implementing international agreements," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos the Thessaloniki Bar Association while speaking on the country's national defence policy.

    Under the ratified International Law of the Sea, Greece has the right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, while Athens has repeatedly stated that it will do so at an opportune time.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos described Turkey as the "number one threat to Greece", saying Ankara would stop at nothing to use force to alter the status quo in the Aegean.

    Commenting on the possibility of Greek-Turkish differences being resolved by recourse to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stated:

    "I don't think there's much point in referring (the differences) to The Hague, because Ankara's logic is devoid of any perspective for a lawful settlement of the issue. Its logic is to impose its views on Athens."

    On Turkey's claims against Greece in the Aegean, the national defence minister reiterated that Greece would never discuss so-called "grey zones" and islets over which it has sovereignty.

    Finally, he strongly defended the Greece-Cyprus joint defence doctrine, saying that for the first time international organisations and major powers "feel the need to intervene in a different way in order to create prosects for a final solution of the Cy prus problem."

    WEATHER

    Cloudiness, accompanied with local rainstorms is forecast for most parts of Greece with some snow in the central and northern mountainous regions. Moderate northerly winds gradually becoming stronger in the Aegean sea. Athens will be partly cloudy with possible rain in the afternoon and temperatures between 9-14C. Same for Thessaloniki with temperatures between 4-9C.

    SPORTS

    Greek First Division soccer results

    Iraklis-AEK 2-2 Panathinaikos-Panahaiki 2-0 OFI-Xanthi 3-0 Kastoria-Kavala 0-1 Pyrgos-Aris 1-1 Veria-Athinaikos 1-0 Ionikos-Edessa 1-3 PAOK-Apollon 3-1 Kalamata-Olympiakos to be played today.

    Standings: Olympiakos 48 Panathinaikos 45 AEK 43 OFI 40 Kavala 34 PAOK 32 Veria 31 Pyrgos 31 Panahaiki 28 Ionikos 27

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 261.620 Pound sterling 423.663 Cyprus pd 519.312 French franc 45.989 Swiss franc 179.111 German mark 155.188 Italian lira (100) 15.731 Yen (100) 211.028 Canadian dlr. 193.301 Australian dlr. 199.853 Irish Punt 413.168 Belgian franc 7.521 Finnish mark 52.469 Dutch guilder 138.280 Danish kr. 40.741 Swedish kr. 35.335 Norwegian kr. 39.025 Austrian sch. 22.052 Spanish peseta 1.833 Portuguese escudo 1.544

    (M.P.)


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