Registered unemployment figure marks slight increase
NEWS IN DETAIL
Foreign Undersecretary briefs Albanian envoy on visit to south
Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis today called Albania's
Ambassador in Greece Hysen Tsabei to his office to brief him on the results
of his two-day visit to southern Albania earlier this week.
A foreign ministry announcement said Kranidiotis expressed puzzlement over
an Albanian demarche concerning his visit to Gjirokaster and Sarande,
saying the only possible explanation was that there had been some
The Albanian foreign ministry lodged the demarche with the Greek Embassy in
Tirana, protesting meetings between Kranidiotis and insurgents' representatives
in southern Albania.
The demarche noted that the rebel representatives had no institutional
competency for such meetings.
Kranidiotis reiterated to Tsabei that all the formal steps had been taken
prior to his visit, in addition to the fact that he had personally informed
Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino just a few days beforehand.
He also underlined that his visit had been within the framework of
multilateral efforts by Greece, not only at an international level but also
within the European Union, aimed at defusing tension in Albania through
peaceful means and supporting the efforts of the new government of national
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas meanwhile described Greek foreign
policy on the Albanian crisis as ''positive''.
He said this was the general assessment of the inner cabinet meeting today
chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis which focused on foreign policy
and the economy.
The spokesman added that Greece would be stepping up its efforts in order
to maintain the country's upgraded role in the region.
In a related development, Reppas said a formal written request was expected
from Tirana possibly later today seeking help from Athens in re-organising
and restructuring the Albanian army.
PM chairs inner cabinet meeting before leaving for Romania
Prime Minister Costas Simitis today chaired a meeting of the inner cabinet
to examine a wide range of government policy issues, with emphasis on
foreign affairs and the economy.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said there was no disagreement on the
issues raised on the basis of an agenda proposed by Simitis, while adding
that ''various views'' were put forward on the matters discussed.
Reppas said there would be a clear picture of the economic situation in mid-
April and predicted a continuation of the downward trend of inflation which,
he forecast, would drop to 5 per cent in the summer.
The meeting also dealt with issues concerning changes in the public sector,
the modernisation of public administration and the government's legislative
Commenting on the government's task in general, the spokesman spoke of two
phases which had already ended -- the first, characterized by planning and
the second, which was accompanied by social tension and labour action.
In the present third phase, he said, emphasis would be placed on implementing
government policy, the close monitoring of the budget and macroeconomic
magnitudes, the course towards European integration, the Intergovernmental
Conference (IGC) and NATO enlargement.
Former MP Andreas Lentakis dies
Former deputy Andreas Lentakis died suddenly this morning of a heart
attack. He was 62. Lentakis was for years a member of Greece's Left, before
joining the newly formed Political Spring party in 1993.
Born in Ethiopia, Lentakis first became active in politics while studying
at Athens University's School of Archeology and History. He later became
involved in the struggle against the 1967-74 military dictatorship, for
which he was imprisoned and tortured.
He became Mayor of Hymettos in 1978 and was relected twice, before being
elected president of the United Democratic Left (EDA). Lentakis later
became a prominent member of the Coalition of the Let and Progress, before
declaring himself an independent deputy in 1993. Later the same year he
became a founding member of Political Spring.
Lentakis also wrote many books on political and social issues. He leaves a
wife, Fotini Savoulidou, and two sons.
FYROM press welcome Pangalos visit, talks in Skopje, Belgrade
Yesterday's visit to Skopje by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos received
a positive response from the press in the Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia (FYROM), according to the ANA's correspondent in Skopje.
"Albania brought Athens and Skopje together", observed the pro-government
Nova Makedonia, referring to the objective of Pangalos' visit, which was to
discuss illegal immigration from Albania to neighbouring states as a result
of the current crisis there. The newspaper also noted that the two sides
agreed with regard to maintaining existing borders as well as respect for
minority rights. It said that a Greek proposal for international economic
aid to the Balkans was also discussed.
Nevenka Mitrefska, under the headline "Psychological barriers are down",
called Pangalos' visit "a courageous step by Grece and a truly European
gesture". It contended that disagreement over FYROM's name "should not be
an obstacle to cooperation".
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday paid a short official visit
to Skopje, where he held four hours of talks with FYROM's political
leadership before departing for high-level talks in Belgrade.
The foreign minister's trip to Skopje and Belgrade was part of Athens'
initiative to promote peace, stability and development in the region, in
light of the recent political crisis in Albania.
Mr. Pangalos' visit was the first ever to FYROM by a Greek minister, since
the landlocked state declared its independence in 1991. Greece objects to
the use of the name "Macedonia" by the neighbouring country, an issue which
is the subject of ongoing UN -mediated negotiations between the two
In Skopje, Mr. Pangalos met FYROM President Kiro Gligorov, Prime Minister
Branco Crvenkovski, Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frckovski and the ministers
of defence and the interior. Mr. Pangalos told a press conference
afterwards that "the situation in the region made it necessary for the
Greek government to have direct consultations" with FYROM.
The Greek foreign minister later flew to Belgrade for talks with Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic and Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic, which
ended late in the afternoon and focused on the Albanian crisis as well as
on ways of dealing with the crisis.
Mr. Pangalos stated afterwards that there was agreement on three points: To
seek promotion of security and political stability through the restoration
of democratic procedures in Albania; that there should be strict policing
of borders to avert side-eff ects from the crisis -- such as smuggling,
arms and drugs running -- and that there should be cooperation between the
two countries' ministries of defence and public order.
He also reported it was agreed there should be frequent contacts among
Greece, Yugoslavia and FYROM, with a view to formulating a common position
at the meeting of Balkan foreign ministers in Thessaloniki on June 9, and
the need to promote an internatio nal initiative that will help the former
communist countries of eastern Europe in their transition to social
cohesion, democracy and political freedoms. Mr. Pangalos added the spilling
over of the Albanian crisis into the Serbian province of Kosovo a nd other
areas of Yugoslavia should be averted at any cost.
Regarding his stopover in Skopje, Mr. Pangalos described his reception as
"enthusiastic", and added that the talks focused on the protection of Greek
exports and the sizeable Greek private investment in FYROM, cooperation in
the fields of river water management and crime, as well as the issue of the
name for the former Yugoslav republic.
"The issue of the name is being discussed at the UN, and we could not
substitute for the UN and its procedures. But the intention to promote the
search for a commonly acceptable solution was strongly expressed at all
levels, by the foreign minister, the prime minister, and by President
Gligorov himself," he said before leaving Belgrade, adding that he would be
briefing the EU on the results of his trip to both capitals.
Thessaloniki to commemorate Jewish Holocaust victims
An initiative by two prominent overseas Greeks is under way aimed at
improving relations between Greece and Israel without disturbing Greece's
traditional friendship with the Arab world, according to a report from the
ANA's Melbourne correspondent.
President of the World Hellenic Parliamentary Commission Dimitris Dollis
and World Council of Overseas Greeks (SAE) President Andrew Athens, who met
recently in the US, plan to hold celebrations in Thessaloniki to honour
Greek Jews who died during the Nazi occupation, as well as Greece's Jewish
community, which goes back to ancient times. Until World War II, Thessaloniki
had the largest Jewish population in Greece, mainly dating from the 15th
Plans for the celebrations, to begin on 29 June, were discussed by Dollis
with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and government officials
The move was decided upon in view of the rise of xenophobia, racism and
religious intolerance in general.
Registered unemployment figure marks slight increase
Registered unemployment in February this year marked a slight increase
according to reports provided by the monthly labour force bulletin and the
Organisation for the Employment of Human Resources (OAED).
In February 1997, unemployed individuals registered with OAED totalled 226,
273 compared to 221,192 in February 1996. In the past year there were 5,081
more unemployed. However, the rate of increase appears to be slowing down
between February 1995 and February 1996 when unemployment increased by 0.91
per cent, while between February 1996 and the corresponding month this year
the increase was 0.24 per cent.
Cloudiness, southerly winds and scattered rainstorms are forecast for
western, central and southern Greece with snowfalls in the mountainous
regions. Athens will be mostly cloudy with rain and a possible rainstorm in
the afternoon with temperatures between 11-16C. Similar weather will
prevail in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 8-12C.
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 263.326
Pound sterling 420.112 Cyprus pd 522.189
French franc 46.376 Swiss franc 182.106
German mark 156.528 Italian lira (100) 15.597
Yen (100) 213.885 Canadian dlr. 191.258
Australian dlr. 207.402 Irish Punt 412.672
Belgian franc 7.586 Finnish mark 52.060
Dutch guilder 139.014 Danish kr. 40.999
Swedish kr. 34.305 Norwegian kr. 38.948
Austrian sch. 22.245 Spanish peseta 1.845
Portuguese escudo 1.554