Primary teachers suspend strike
NEWS IN DETAIL
Papantoniou: stability, consistency characterise Greek economy
Greece's economic policy since 1994 has been characterised by stability and
consistency within the framework of efforts to attain the targets of a
revised economic convergence programme, National Economy and Finance
Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday.
Speaking at an event marking the presentation of the European Commission's
first report on Economic and Social Cohesion, Mr. Papantoniou underlined
that cohesion policies should contribute to the development of the less
developed EU 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 on Tuesday.
"This report clearly shows that the EU's structural policies are indeed
effective in bridging the gap between the rich and poor member-states," Ms
The commissioner said that the four less developed EU countries - Greece,
Spain, Portugal and Ireland - had managed to increase their per capita
income by 65-75 per cent in relation to the Community average, resulting in
a closing of the gap separating them from the wealthier member-states by
one-fifth since the 1980s.
On employment, Ms Wulf-Mathies said that although seven million new jobs
had been created in the EU in the last decade, including one million in
less developed countries, "unemployment remains the Community's most
serious problem, which is why in addition to national measures a coordinated
approach at EU level is also needed."
Austrian FM comments on excellent Greek-Austrian relations
Austrian Foreign Minister and Deputy Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel yesterday
spoke of his country's excellent relations with Greece, during an interview
here with the Athens News Agency.
Mr. Schussel is due to arrive in Athens on a two-day official visit this
He said both countries are particularly interested in common issues of
regional foreign policy and the situation in central and eastern Europe,
particularly in the Balkans, where the Greek government has repeatedly
mediated at crucial moments.
The Austrian foreign minister said his country was avidly following
Greece's efforts, similar to those by Austria, for achieving stable
criteria for the Euro, and is particularly interested in Athens' estimates
regarding tension in the Aegean and Cyprus, within the framework of
political dialogue with Turkey.
Mr. Schussel said he considers international presence in Cyprus as being
very important for the island republic's accession negotiations with the EU,
which he said must begin according to a schedule decided on by the European
Commission, namely, six mon ths after the end of the Intergovernmental
He also expressed his belief that the continuation of dialogue with Ankara
is the only chance for a defusion of tension in the Aegean and a finding of
a logical solution.
Mr. Schussel said that at present, there is no issue of Turkey's entry into
the EU "for many various reasons," adding that Ankara is already well aware
Greek-Bulgarian road network project discussed
A meeting between Greek and Bulgarian technical experts was held in
Nevrokopi, Drama prefecture yesterday in order to discuss technical details
of a road network to connect the two countries through the Exohi border
Road experts said that if relevant procedures are carried out uninterrupted,
the Exohi border post will be operational by the end of 1998, which is
within the time limits set in a Greek-Bulgarian agreement.
They added that the two countries' governments must be pressured in order
for funding and tendering procedures to be accelerated for essential
A joint committee cooperation protocol was signed after the meeting.
Greece warm to idea of Athens-Ankara-NATO hot line
A direct telephone link between NATO headquarters in Brussels and Athens
and Ankara could play "a positive role", government spokesman Dimitris
Reppas said yesterday.
The idea of a "hot line" was put forward by NATO Secretary General Javier
Solana, who briefed Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis on the
initiative at Tuesday's informal session of NATO foreign ministers in
"Greece has acknowledged that in order to confront crisis situations, there
could be mechanisms which do not prejudice our right to take the major
decisions concerning the protection of our interests, while at the same
time participating in procedures w hich are beneficial and lead to the
defusing of crises," Mr. Reppas said.
Rifkind cites lack of progress in Greek-Turkish relations
British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind yesterday avoided a repeat of his
assessment on the possibility of conflict between Greece and Turkey, but
said relations between the two countries are "very poor" and that "both
Greece and Turkey have not achieved any progress."
Mr. Rifkind, currently in Bonn within the framework of a campaign to brief
the Union on British positions concerning European Union prospects, spoke
at a press conference.
Replying to a question by the Athens News Agency on whether he continues to
insist on this assessment of the situation, Mr. Rifkind replied:
"What I'm saying is that there are some areas of tension in Europe, such as
the conflict between Turkey and Greece in the eastern Mediterranean.Relations
between the two countries are very bad. It is a problem which we must
tackle. We must achieve an improvement," he added.
Iranian official holds talks with Tsohatzopoulos
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday briefed visiting
Iranian First Vice-President Hassan Habibi on Greece's efforts to promote
its role as a peace and stabilisation force in the region.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos further informed the high-ranking Iranian official of
what he called the destabilisation factors in the region, citing "Turkish
aggressiveness" and the the fact that a solution to the Cyprus issue has
yet to be found.
He added that the promotion of peace should depend on conditions of
international law, international conventions and agreements.
The meeting also focused on ways to broaden cooperation between the two
countries beyond the energy sector.
Mr. Habibi stressed that Iran considered Greece to be an important friend
and a "bridge of communication" between his country and Europe.
Costas Karamanlis latest entry into ND leadership race
Main opposition New Democracy deputy Costas Karamanlis yesterday accepted a
proposal by ND 30 party deputies nominating him for the party's leadership
during the forthcoming ND congress.
"I'm honoured by the proposal of my colleagues and will do my duty in the
interest of the party and with a sense of responsibility," Mr. Karamanlis
said in a public statement after the meeting of the 30 deputies, which was
held at the initiative of party vice-president Ioannis Varvitsiotis on
"We're reversing Greece's political scene..." Mr. Varvitsiotis said in
describing Tuesday as "a historic day."
Greek, Hungagrian defence counterparts discuss NATO enlargement
National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis held talks here
yesterday with his Hungarian counterpart, Istvan Yarmadi, on the political
situation in Europe, bilateral relations and cooperation in technical and
The two officials also discussed NATO enlargement after which Mr.
Apostolakis said the positions of the two countries were identical.
" Replying to questions on a proposal by NATO Secretary General Javier
Solana for the establishment of a "hot line" link between NATO headquarters
in Brussels, Athens and Ankara, for the avoidance of incident, Mr.
"Greece is willing to cooperate in anything which results in a defusion of
tension in the region."
He added, however, that the setting up of such a link entailed certain
prerequisites, the most important of which was for Ankara to cease its
On Greece's stated intention to expand its territorial waters from six to
12 nautical miles as a response to any fresh Turkish provocation, Mr.
Apostolakis said it was a "major political decision." Speaking to reporters,
Mr. Yarmadi said Hungary understood Russian reservations about NATO
enlargement eastwards "without this meaning that we adopt them."
The best solution, Mr. Yarmadi said, is cooperation between Russia and NATO
so that Moscow will be able to lift its reservations."
Primary teachers suspend strike
Primary school and kindergarten teachers yesterday decided to put an end to
their three-week-old strike, while high school teachers' representatives
voted to continue their five-week-old strike.
The decision to end the primary school strike was reached during a meeting
of teachers' local associations, who put the issue to vote. A total of 214
teachers voted in favour of ending the strike, 147 voted against and 29
cast blank votes. At the same time, teachers last night held a rally
outside Parliament, which met to discuss the unrest in the educational
Inside Parliament and during the debate, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said
"the government has shown, is showing and will show particular sensitivity
on salary-related problems faced by teachers, but within the framework of a
Analysing economic issues dominating the professors' strike, and recently
that of elementary school and kindergarten teachers, Mr. Simitis said a
newly appointed teacher will receive, after an escalating increase in the
year, 297,000 drachmas, namely an increase in the region of 9 per cent,
which actually is an average increase of 11.5 per cent for all teachers.
The salary of a newly appointed professor is set at 307,000 drachmas with
the new salary scale effective as of Jan. 1 and will ultimately reach 317,
000 drachmas in the year, an increase of 11 per cent, which means an
average increase of 13 per cent.
Local self-administration employees announce strikes
The Panhellenic Federation of Local Self-Administration Organisation
Employees (POP-OTA) yesterday announced 48-hour rolling strikes to begin
Part-time municipal employees' demands include for their contracts to be
converted to contracts of unspecified duration and the rehiring of certain
OA contradicts press reports that restructuring programme has failed
In a report to the European Union concerning Olympic Airways, an EU auditor
stresses that "Olympic Airways will steadfastly maintain its economic
course in the future without state interventions", adding that "the company
is presenting considerable result s, both in its restructuring and the
The airline's administration used that excerpt yesterday in reply to press
reports claiming that "the restructuring programme of Olympic is being
delayed or has failed" or that "the EU is reacting to the closure of the
OA's administration expressed displeasure over these reports and, replying
to press questions, stressed that both the state-run company's passenger
turnover and profits are following a steady upward trend.
Specifically, in 1996 (January to December compared to the corresponding
period in 1995) the total number of passengers travelling on both domestic
and overseas flights increased by 7 per cent.
The company's budgeted revenues for 1996 increased by 13 per cent (domestic
Gale force northerly winds and low temperatures are forecast for most parts
of Greece including the Aegean. But the weather will gradually improve as
of tonight starting from the west and north. Snowfall in the mountainous
regions. Athens will be partly cloudy, cold, windy with drizzle and
temperatures between 5-10C. Same for Thessaloniki with temperatures between
-3 to 5C.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 263.445
Pound sterling 426.481 Cyprus pd 519.808
French franc 46.051 Swiss franc 178.039
German mark 155.575 Italian lira (100) 15.623
Yen (100) 212.328 Canadian dlr. 194.214
Australian dlr. 201.634 Irish Punt 414.755
Belgian franc 7.539 Finnish mark 52.191
Dutch guilder 138.548 Danish kr. 40.785
Swedish kr. 35.315 Norwegian kr. 39.001
Austrian sch. 22.116 Spanish peseta 1.836
Portuguese escudo 1.550