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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-28

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, 28/03/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece supports Romanian efforts for NATO, EU inclusion
  • PM meets with Greek commissioner on IGC
  • Commissioner Kinnock meets with alternate FM, transport minister
  • Mining company charges targeted for abuse by locals
  • New tourism chief named
  • Greek Tourism Organisation wins Russian award
  • Turkish National Assembly president to visit Athens
  • Mob breaks into Greek consulate in Gjirocaster
  • Shipping exchange inflows up 3.3 percent
  • Suspected Creuzfeldt-Jacob cases in Crete

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Greece supports Romanian efforts for NATO, EU inclusion

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos had talks in Bucharest today with Romanian President Emil Constantinescu and Prime Minister Viktor Corbea on the second and final day of an official visit to the Romanian capital, according to an ANA despatch.

    Citing Bucharest Radio, the despatch said Tsohatzopoulos had reiterated that Greece supported NATO and EU enlargement.

    During talks with Tsohatzopoulos, Corbea stressed that NATO membership was a priority for Romanian foreign policy.

    Both men underlined meanwhile that their respective countries were ready to support an international initiative aimed at resolving the crisis in Albania.

    Greece and Romania yesterday signed two military-related agreements, one in the technology and armaments sector and the other concerning the protection of military information.

    PM meets with Greek commissioner on IGC

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis had talks today with Greece's European Commissioner for SMEs, tourism and energy, Christos Papoutsis, on issues ranging from the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) and EU enlargement to the latest developments in Albania and the Commission's role in efforts to defuse the crisis.

    After the one-hour meeting, Papoutsis said the ''particularly useful and substantial'' talks with Simitis would help to shape ''a responsible and coordinated Greek presence in European developments''.

    Describing the current period for Greece's course in the EU as ''critical'', Papoutsis underlined the need for a determined and constructive stance on the part of all, particularly with regard to the IGC and developments in the Balkan region in general.

    Replying to questions on Cyprus' course towards EU accession, Papoutsis reiterated the commitments undertaken by the Community concerning the commencement of negotiations six months after the end of the IGC.

    He noted that the relevant EU decisions did not foresee other prerequisites, such as a prior settlement of the Cyprus problem and expressed the hope that Cyprus would definitely be among the first new members of the EU.

    On developments in Albania, Papoutsis said the Commission had undertaken the coordination of EU efforts to restore normality in the neighbouring country and what was needed now was the activation of those agencies which will undertake to ensure that aid sent to Albania reaches its proper destination.

    Asked to comment on Italian initiatives, Papoutsis said that Rome was interested in playing an important role in the region ''in which it has interests, just as Greece has''.

    Papoutsis said Greece's role in efforts to defuse the crisis in Albania had been ''responsible'' and this had been acknowledged by the EU.

    Commissioner Kinnock meets Alternate FM, transport minister

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou had talks today with visiting European Commissioner for transport, Neil Kinnock, focusing on monetary union, the development aspect of EU enlargement, developments in Britain and issues related to transport in the Balkan region.

    Replying to reporters' questions after the meeting, Papandreou said the Community was satisfied with the rate of implementation, with EU assistance, of major infrastructure works in Greece, while adding that a number of matters were yet to be resolved.

    ''I think we are on a good course,'' Papandreou said.

    Asked to comment on the crisis in neighbouring Albania, Kinnock said the EU desired the normalisation of the situation ''and subsequently, apart from the despatch of humanitarian aid, we shall hopefully be able to formulate a rational policy as far as our relations with Albania are concerned''.

    For a number of reasons, Kinnock added, it was still too early for the Commission to finalize its policy on Albania since, as he said, the main thing is for stability to be restored ''before we can begin any development effort''.

    Kinnock later had talks with Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis of transport issues, with particular emphasis on those to which Greece attaches particular importance.

    Kastanidis said there was an identity of views with Kinnock on several issues, including the need for unimpeded rail links with the Community, without delays or formalities which entail higher costs and problems for perishable goods.

    Kinnock, he added, also agreed to a Greek request for Community assistance in extending Greece's free rail links with the countries of eastern Europe.

    Other issues discussed included the revision of prices, special taxation system and duties for goods transiting Austria and Switzerland.

    Kastanidis said the Commission had agreed to take a final decision on assistance for the rehabilitation of the national carrier ''Olympic Airways'' at the end of April.

    The only issue on which Kastanidis expressed some reservations was that of the uniform flight control system, regarding which he requested clarifications on matters such as which agency will be responsible for planning the new air corridors.

    Kinnock agreed that these points such be clarified at the forthcoming meeting of EU transport ministers in Brussels.

    The Commissioner, who celebrates his 58th birthday today, said he was glad to be in Athens and that he preferred the Greek capital to Brussels.

    Mining company claims target of abuse by locals

    TVX Hellas, the company which has undertaken the exploitation of gold mines at Olympiada, northern Greece and plans to set up a gold processing plant in the same area, today alleged ''violence and vandalism'' against three senior staff members.

    Describing the attack as ''unprovoked'', the Greek subsidiary of the Canadian company ''TVX Gold'' attributed it to ''certain residents of Olympiada incited by the president of the community''.

    According to the company, the attack took place on Wednesday when several of its executives were dining at a restaurant in the village of Olympiada.

    A crowd of locals gathered outside the restaurant demanding that the gold processing plant not be established in the area, saying that it would harm the environment and particularly marine life, with negative repercussions for local tourism.

    The company claims that the locals attacked the company executives with stones and pieces of wood and also caused damage to their cars and the restaurant itself.

    The Secretary of Olympiada community, Yiannis Anastasiadis, told the ANA that ''the president had notified the company executives in good time that there would be a protest by locals outside the restaurant and advised them to leave. The TVX employees however remained and when the locals gathered, they provoked them with the result that several hotheads threw stones and pieces of wood at them''.

    TVX Hellas has filed complaints against the persons allegedly responsible for the violence, which have been forwarded by the police to the public prosecutor in Polygyros.

    New tourism head named

    The Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) may have a new secretary- general but its tourism policies will remain the same Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said yesterday.

    Ms Papandreou was speaking to reporters during an official ceremony appointing Nikos Skoulas to the post of EOT secretary-general.

    Mr. Skoulas, until recently the head of the national council on Tourism, replaces Vassilis Kourtessis, who resigned last week.

    Mr. Skoulas, who was a national economy undersecretary responsible for the tourism sector from 1987 to 1989 and EOT secretary-general from 1982 to 1985, pledged to continue the work begun by his predecessor.

    "The pace, however, needs to be increased because our competitors will not wait for us," he warned.

    He said he hoped to be in the post for a substantial period of time - such as five years - so that he could realise the plans he had and achieve more results.

    Indications for the tourist season so far this year, Ms. Papandreou added, were encouraging, with arrivals expected to increase significantly over last year's figures.

    Greek Tourism Organisation wins Russian award

    EOT yesterday won the first prize for best international pavilion at the Moscow International Tourism Fair, which began on Wednesday in the Russian capital.

    It is EOT's fourth consecutive year at the fair, joined this year by another 50 exhibitors from Greece, private organisations and local government bodies.

    Russian officials said 1997 would be a good year for tourism to Greece with the number of visitors from Russia expected to continue to rise. The numbers are expected to be helped by Olympic Airways new Athens-Moscow route.

    Turkish national assembly president to visit Athens

    The president of Turkey's National Assembly, Mustafa Kalemli, is to visit Athens in order to attend the meeting of Mediterranean countries' parliamentary presidents on April 6-7.

    According to Mr. Kalemli's office, the Turkish parliament president accepted an invitation extended by his Greek counterpart, Apostolos Kaklamanis, to attend the meeting.

    Diplomatic sources attributed Mr Kalemli's visit to Athens to efforts to improve Greek-Turkish relations, and stressed he has already discussed his visit with Gen. Karadayi.

    Meanwhile, military sources told the Turkish press that Gen. Karadayi's gesture of appearing at the reception aimed to change the impression that the Turkish general staff is provoking tension in bilateral relations.

    "We proceded with an important step with the aim of showing this is not how things are. From now on, Athens and EU countries must make the required steps for friendship between the two countries," the same sources told the Turkish daily "Cumhurriyet".

    "The non-military sector has not managed to forge the same friendly relations which we military have forged," the same sources said.

    Mob breaks into Greek consulate in Gjirokaster

    Serious scuffles broke out at the Greek consulate here yesterday when armed individuals demanding passport visas broke down the main door, threw tear gas grenades and threatened staff by firing automatic rifles in the air.

    The incident occurred after several thousand people gathered outside the consulate, the second day that it opened following the unrest of recent weeks.

    Staff members were eventually evacuated to the consular residence, while the incident ended after about two hours.

    Shipping exchange inflows up 3.3%

    Inflows of shipping exchange increased by 3.3 per cent between January and November 1996 to total 2,057 million dollars, compared to 1,992 million dollars in the corresponding eleven-month period of 1995, according to figures released today by the Merchant Marine Ministry.

    In November 1996, inflows of shipping exchange totalled 197 million dollars, compared to 190.9 million dollars in the same month of 1995, marking a 3.2 per cent increase.

    Suspected Creuzfeldt-Jacob cases in Crete

    Two people are in a serious condition in an Iraklio hospital with what is thought to be Creuzfeldt-Jacob syndrome, which has been linked to bovine spongiform encephaly (BSE) or mad cow disease, according to unconfirmed hospital sources.

    The two, both in their fifties, were suspected of having the disease about six weeks ago and a biopsy was performed indicating the syndrome. The tests have been sent to Athens for confirmation.

    Infected meat had been found in tests carried out around Crete about a year ago.

    WEATHER

    Mostly sunny weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today, apart from the Cyclades islands and Crete where it will be overcast in the morning. Winds will be northerly, moderate to strong in the Aegean which will gradually subside. Fair weather in Athens with temperatures between 5-16C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 1-14C.

    SPORTS

    Professional basketball in Greece

    Professional basketball in Greece - officially - will very soon be a fact, Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras stated yesterday.

    Basketball clubs will be converted into societes anonymes with a minimum equity capital of 100 million drachmas.

    Regarding the issue of foreign players who acquire Greek citizenship, he said the undersecretariat will toughen its attitude and tighten procedures.

    Olympiakos beats rival in European League game

    The Olympiakos (Piraeus) basketball team beat its crosstown rival Panathinaikos (Athens) yesterday evening 69-49 for the semi-finals of the European Championship League.

    The halftime score was 30-29 in favour of the Piraeus club, which played on Panathinaikos' home court at the Olympic Indoor Arena.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 263.723 Pound sterling 429.536 Cyprus pd 524.470 French franc 46.562 Swiss franc 181.333 German mark 156.944 Italian lira (100) 15.714 Yen (100) 213.409 Canadian dlr. 191.555 Australian dlr. 205.979 Irish Punt 415.450 Belgian franc 7.608 Finnish mark 52.963 Dutch guilder 139.555 Danish kr. 41.194 Swedish kr. 34.785 Norwegian kr. 39.734 Austrian sch. 22.300 Spanish peseta 1.851 Portuguese escudo 1.561

    (M.P.)


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