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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-02-19

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, 19/02/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Ecofin minister outlines Greece's social, economic cohesion
  • Iranian vice-president meets with Parliament president
  • Austrian FM arrives in Athens tomorrow
  • Greece rallies to send aid to Bulgaria
  • Court hears petition on Acropolis closure strike
  • Russian fugitive did not receive Greek travel papers
  • National defence college students visit Albania
  • Customs officers seize contraband cigarettes
  • Greece backs `balanced` NATO expansion, wants Balkans included

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Papantoniou outlines Greece's social and economic cohesion

    Greece's economic policy since 1994 has been characterised by stability and consistency within the framework of efforts to attain the targets of the revised economic conversion programme, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said today.

    Speaking at an event marking the presentation of the European Commission's first report on Economic and Social Cohesion, Papantoniou underlined that cohesion policies should contribute to the development of the less developed countries.

    The report was presented by European Commissioner for regional policy and the Cohesion Fund, Monika Wulf-Mathies, who began an official visit to Greece yesterday.

    The course towards economic and social cohesion, he said, should be viewed as a long-term process during which it will be absolutely necessary to support the less developed regions.

    Papantoniou added that the Greek economy would, at the end of 1988, satisfy terms for accession to Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and was expected to join by the year 2000.

    During his speech, Papandreou stressed that Greece functioned in an entirely different public finances framework from its EU partners, since it was facing a major national security threat from Turkey.

    For this reason, he added, Greece was forced to spend huge amounts on defence and should therefore be treated by the EU with different criteria.

    Underlining the success of the government's economic policy since 1994, Papantoniou said that inflation had dropped from 14.2 per cent in 1993 to an average of 8.6 per cent in 1996, while it is expected to be below 5 per cent by the end of the current year.

    Papantoniou underlined that while EU enlargement was necessary, it should under no circumstances be attained at the expense of the poorer EU countries.

    Iranian vice-president meets Parliament president

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis met today with Iran's first Vice President Hassan Habibi who is currently on a three-day official visit to Greece.

    During their talks, Kaklamanis underlined Turkey's aggressive stance towards Greece and its destabilizing role in the region in general.

    Kaklamanis briefed Habibi on Turkish threats in the Aegean and the continuing Turkish occupation of 40 per cent of Cyprus' territory.

    The two officials also reviewed bilateral relations.

    It was agreed that efforts should be made to strengthen cooperation between the two countries' parliaments through exchange visits by parliamentary delegations.

    Habibi renewed the invitation of the Iranian Parliament President to Kaklamanis to visit Teheran and referred to the bilateral agreements which are expected to be signed during his stay here.

    He stressed that Iran considered Greece to be an important friend and a ''bridge of communication'' between his country and Europe.

    Austrian FM Schussel arrives in Athens tomorrow

    Austrian Foreign Minister and Deputy Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel arrives in Athens tomorrow on an official two-day visit.

    Mr. Schussel will hold talks on bilateral relations with Greece, developments in the European Union, cooperation between the two countries at the EU and other international organisations as well as the situation in former Yugoslavia and the Balkans, the future enlargement of NATO and Austria's views on European security.

    The fact that Austria will hold the EU's rotating presidency in the second half of 1998, the year when negotiations on Cyprus' accession to the EU are due to start, attaches increased importance to Mr. Schussel's visit.

    Talks are also expected to focus on the Cyprus issue, with which Austria has a particular interest since Vienna has had a contingent of soldiers in the UN peacekeeping force on Cyprus since the early 1960s.

    Greece rallies to send aid to Bulgaria

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou today chaired a meeting which focused on the despatch of humanitarian aid to neighbouring Bulgaria.

    The meeting was attended by the mayors of Greek towns with Bulgarian sister- cities and the deans of universities of Macedonia and Thrace.

    Also participating were Interior Undersecretary Lambros Papademas and Bulgaria's Ambassador in Athens.

    The aim of Papandreou's initiative is to sensitize Greeks concerning the need to provide assistance to the Bulgarian people.

    He expressed the view that public opinion would respond to the campaign and donate foodstuffs, clothing and pharmaceuticals.

    The participants in the meeting referred to their previous experience in gathering humanitarian aid for former Yugoslavia and appealed for the State's support in despatching the aid to Bulgaria.

    According to informed sources, Papandreou will pay a lightning visit to Sofia on Friday to discuss Bulgaria's real needs in terms of economic and humanitarian aid with the country's political leadership.

    Papandreou is also expected to convey a Bulgarian aid request to the EU General Affairs Council which is due to meet in Brussels on 24 February.

    The Greek government is already in the process of sending 700 tonnes of 1, 700 tonnes of flour to Bulgaria for distribution among hospitals and social institutions in several cities.

    Court hears petition on Acropolis closure strike

    An Athens court today examined a Culture Ministry application to have an employees' strike declared ''illegal and abusive'', as the country's foremost archaeological sites and museums remained closed to visitors.

    The ministry employees' ongoing 48-hour rolling strikes have closed the Athens Acropolis as well as the Byzantine Museum, Archaeological Museum and White Tower in Thessaloniki.

    The ministry maintains that the due procedure for calling the strike was not adhered to and that the decision to strike was taken by the board of administration of the employees' federation instead of its general meeting.

    In addition, the ministry contends that skeleton security shifts have not been implemented at archaeological sites and the way in which the strike is being held is prejudicial to the country's image internationally.

    On the other side, the employees assert that every effort had been made prior to the strike to meet with Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos in order to discuss their grievances.

    Testifying for the ministry, employee Barbara Belezini said that according to the federation's board of administration, only 180 of the ministry's 6, 500 employees were striking.

    George Alvanos, member of the federation board who works as an antiquities restorer at the Athens Acropolis, testifying on behalf of the striking employees, underlined that the strike had been called because communication between the federation and the political leadership of the ministry was non- existent.

    The Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) intervened in the proceedings in support of the ministry employees.

    No ruling has yet been delivered by the court.

    Russian fugitive did not receive Greek travel papers

    Greek Ambassador to Russia Kyriakos Roudousakis has confirmed that no passport or other travel document was issued by the Greek Consulate in Moscow to Alexander Solonik, a Russian fugitive found murdered near Athens early this month.

    Investigations have been under way as to how Solonik managed to obtain Greek identification papers after escaping from a Russian prison.

    The Ambassador also denied that a passport under the name "Kolandopoulos" found in the possession of Russian Andrei Koligov at Moscow airport had been issued by the Greek consulate. He said the passport in question had proved to be a forgery, as had the identification papers found among Solonik's personal belongings.

    National defence college students visit Albania

    A group of 20 students from the National Defence College and several senior employees of the National Defence Ministry will pay a three-day visit to Tirana beginning tomorrow, according to an ANA despatch from Gyrokastr.

    During their stay in Tirana, the group will be briefed by the Albanian Defence Ministry and visit the neighbouring country's military college and a number of archaeological sites.

    The defence ministry representatives will have contacts with Albanian Foreign Ministry officials who will brief them on Albanian foreign policy.

    Customs officers seize contraband cigarettes

    Customs officers have seized over one million packets of contraband cigarettes and 2,200 shirts on a Honduras-flagged vessel in the port of Nea Moudania, Chalkidiki, which would have been liable to duty totalling 1 billion drachmas.

    The contraband was discovered in four containers on the freighter ''Dig''.

    The captain of the vessel, Ukrainian Volodimir Kosevcuk, 56, was arrested.

    During questioining, Kosevcuk contradicted himself, initially claiming not to have been aware of the content of the containers and subsequently saying that they contained drinks and clothing.

    He told customs officers that the cargo had been loaded in Limassol, Cyprus and their destination was Nea Moudania.

    The vessel arrived in the northern Greek port yesterday morning without reporting to the local Harbour Police office and without presenting shipping documents for the cargo.

    Customs officers searched the vessel and found 1,325,000, packets of cigarettes, Greek and foreign, packed in cartons of 50, and the shirts of unknown origin.

    Kosevcuk is due to appear in court at Polygyros later today.

    Greece backs 'balanced' NATO expansion, wants Balkans included

    Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis said yesterday that Greece favours enlargement of NATO eastwards, adding it should be "balanced" and not be aimed at only one region but should include Balkan countries as well .

    Speaking to Greek reporters yesterday, Mr. Kranidiotis said Athens believes that the 16-NATO members should take into serious consideration concerns and claims put forward by Russia and Ukraine.

    He added that dialogue on Mediterranean issues should be promoted in the framework of the alliance, adding that there are many problems which must be resolved by July, both in relation to enlargement and the alliance's internal structure. Mr. Kranidiotis also mentioned the problem of structure and the allocation of NATO headquarters as an example.

    Mr. Kranidiotis represented Greece at the informal session of NATO foreign ministers which came to a close at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels last night.

    Mr. Kranidiotis said Greece had agreed with the idea set out by NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana some time ago on the installation of a "secure telephone link" between Greece and NATO, and at the same time between Turkey and NATO, which could be activated in the event of an emergency or crisis.

    According to ANA reports, direct linkage is anticipated between the defence ministries of Greece and Turkey with NATO's headquarters, and more specifically with the office of NATO's secretary general, through telephone lines which will be absolutely secure.

    WEATHER

    Cloudiness, rainstorms and snowfalls in most parts of Greece, spreading to the rest of the country this evening starting from east to the southern coastal areas. Athens will be overcast with rain and snow in the surrounding mountains with temperatures ranging between 4-13C. Thessaloniki will be cloudy and rainy with temperatures between -1 to 6C.

    SPORTS

    Acropolis rally

    The 44th international "Rally Acropolis" will be held from June 8-10 with 20 special routes, including nine new ones, covering a total of 399 kilometres, the Hellenic Automobile Touring Association (ELPA) said yesterday.

    This year, the rally is included in the world manufacturers' and drivers' championship and the two-litre world cup category.

    ELPA said a number of teams have already declared that they will be participating, including those of Ford, Seat, Skoda, Subaru and Mitsubishi.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 264.408 Pound sterling 424.794 Cyprus pd 520.304 French franc 46.015 Swiss franc 178.357 German mark 155.278 Italian lira (100) 15.707 Yen (100) 212.933 Canadian dlr. 194.968 Australian dlr. 202.428 Irish Punt 414.656 Belgian franc 7.525 Finnish mark 52.364 Dutch guilder 138.334 Danish kr. 40.720 Swedish kr. 35.500 Norwegian kr. 38.986 Austrian sch. 22.068 Spanish peseta 1.838 Portuguese escudo 1.545

    (M.P.)


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