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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-05-14

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 14/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Expert committees to communicate by letter
  • Premier inaugurates talks on changes to job market
  • Luxembourg: Cyprus EU entry talks should begin as planned
  • Greece calls for common European defence policy
  • Cyprus issue, IGC discussed by Kranidiotis in Britain
  • US State Dept. denies reports of Aegean air corridors accord
  • Greece sends more aid to Iran
  • Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria to begin African tour
  • European Court ruling on cheaper imported second hand cars expected
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Expert committees to communicate by letter

The government confirmed today that the Greek and Turkish committees of experts formed to examine procedural matters relating to problems dividing the two neighbours would operate by exchanging views in writing.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that this process, with the exchange taking place via the Dutch EU presidency, would enable each side to clearly set out its positions.

''In this way, it will become clear whether there is common ground,'' Reppas said.

The spokesman underlined however that Greece was interested in rapprochement and coming to an understanding with Turkey but only within the framework of the three conditions set by Athens, namely that Ankara respects international law, international treaties and acts in a spirit of good faith.

Premier inaugurates talks on changes to job market

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today officially opened the process of social dialogue which, he said, was aimed at shaping ''a new social balance which will generate major structural interventions which in turn will accelerate the developmental course of the economy''.

''We want a substantial and frank dialogue to develop and I assure you that as far as the government is concerned, no decisions will be taken in advance and merely imposed during the process of dialogue,'' Simitis told his audience at a special event held at the General Accounts Office.

The stabilisation of the economy, the improvement of growth rates and the upgrading of the country's production infrastructure may constitute ''messages of hope'' but they do not suffice, Simitis said.

At this point, Simitis warned of the ''serious consequences'' if Greece failed to EMU convergence targets.

''The drachma will be devalued, inflation will rise, borrowing from abroad will increase, unemployment will grow and prosperity will take a nose-dive, '' the premier said.

Simitis indicated that unemployment would feature prominently in the social dialogue.

''We are not interested in attaining a better standard of living for just a few at the expense of employment. The government will make every effort to ensure that not only the incomes of those in employment improve, but also that conditions are created which afford access to the labour market for those currently out of work,'' Simitis said.

The social dialogue, Simitis stressed, will not have succeed if it merely ends in ''compromise agreements'' for the preservation of vested interests.

''To succeed, it must bring to the forefront the new forces of the country and establish new ways for these forces to communicate with each other and ensure creative cooperation,'' the premier added.

Speaking at the same event, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou outlined the specific issues to be discussed, the time framework and the procedure to be adopted for the process of dialogue.

The link between the plenary and the various discussion groups, Papantoniou said, will be the Coordinating Secretariat.

He added that the government was open to a broadening of the topics of dialogue, having already accepted a request by trade unions for a discussion of fiscal matters, at least to the extent that such matters pertain to workers' income.

General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos welcomed the commencement of the social dialogue, pledging that GSEE would contribute decisively to the process.

Polyzogopoulos indicated that other trade union groups, affiliated to opposition parties, would eventually join in the dialogue, despite the fact that they were absent from today's official opening.

The GSEE chief stressed that ''the main burden of dialogue'' must be lifted by the representatives of the three main parties -- namely, the government, workers and employers -- with other organisations playing a subsidiary role with respect to specific issues.

Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) President Yiannis Koutsoukos said the dialogue should have begun earlier and warned against ''surprises'' appearing during the course of the dialogue in the form of ''unilateral government decisions''.

Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Iasonas Stratos said the dialogue procedures should be treated as ''a forum for an exchange of views''.

Stratos expressed the view that the 19 topics for discussion were not clear enough and required broadening with regard to aspects of interest to industry, such as denationalisation, the liberalisation of markets and the modernisation of public enterprises and organisations.

Luxembourg: Cyprus EU entry talks should begin as planned

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday that his country believes negotiations for Cyprus's entry into the EU should begin, as already decided, simultaneously with entry negotiations for central and eastern European countries.

He said after talks with his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis that the process for Cyprus' entry should not be linked to "political conditions", nor should they be delayed for such reasons.

Speaking to the press, the Greek premier reiterated Greece's positions on EU relations with Turkey, noting that based on the Council of Ministers' decision of July 15, 1996, Turkey must make certain statements which "will lift the existing reservations on their part," while it must also conform to international law and must recourse to the International Court at The Hague if it believes it has demands from Greece.

Greece calls for common European defence policy

Summing up the results of the West European Union's (WEU) Council of Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers' session, concluded in Paris last night, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said it was a very important meeting on Europe's common defence policy.

He said a new element in the meeting was that it was not merely a new relationship between the WEU, the Europen Union and NATO, but the shaping of new improved preconditions with which the WEU will be able to operate as a defence arm for the EU with NATO's resources.

The meeting in Paris was the confirmation of this step, he said, adding that with the reformulation of the relevant clause in the final proclamation of the session, the associate members of the WEU, such as Turkey, can participate in operations and specific decisions but without exceeding the status defining their relations with the organisation.

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who participated in the Paris meeting said last night that his talks with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook as being "particularly interesting".

"Labour, in contrast with the Conservatives, are not setting the resolution of the Cyprus problem as a condition for Cyprus' entry into the EU," he said.

"Mr. Cook assured me that he will shortly undertake an initiative in this direction."

Cyprus issue, IGC discussed by Kranidiotis in Britain

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis met in London yesterday with British Foreign Secretary responsible for European issues, Douglas Henderson, in what was the first official meeting between a Greek government official and the new Labour government.

The two discussed the Cyprus issue, the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), Greece's initiatives in view of the IGC in June and new prospects for cooperation between the governments of Greece and Britain.

Mr. Kranidiotis noted that the climate on the Cyprus issue was very positive.

"I have ensured Mr. Henderson's clear assurance that the Labour government will now implement the pre-election positions they stated regarding the Cyprus issue."

US State Dept. denies reports of Aegean air corridors accord

The United States yesterday denied reports that there is an agreement between Greece and Turkey for Athens to cede air corridors in the Aegean to be used by Turkish aircraft.

US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said "the talks we had last week with the Greek defence ministry in Crete covered a broad range of bilateral issues, as always occurs."

"We were suprised by certain publications in the Greek media which claimed there was an agreement between Greece and Turkey at last week's meeting for the creation of air corridors over the Aegean, or that discussions involved a proposal for Greek aircr aft to fly over the Aegean without equipment. These publications are incorrect."

Greece sends more aid to Iran

The health and welfare ministry said yesterday it was sending urgent humanitarian aid to quake-stricken eastern Iran, including medical supplies, 200 tents and 500 blankets.

The ministry added that it was conferring with the foreign ministry to arrange for the dispatch of the aid by chartered flights.

The foreign ministry said on Monday that it would be sending 20 tons of medical and other aid this week to Iran.

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday sent a telegram to his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Natek Nouri, expressing his deepest regrets at the catastrophic earthquake which has killed and injured thousands of people.

Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria to begin African tour

The new Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa Petros will begin a visit to several African countries on May 24, with Uganda as his first stop.

The purpose of his visit is to enthrone the new Metropolitan of Kampala and all Uganda Ionas. He will also have the opportunity of meeting with local clergymen and faithful.

On May 28, the Patriarch and his entourage will fly to the neighbouring Metropolis of Kenya for an official visit. Patriarch Petros will be received by the presidents of the two countries. He will also meet the ambassadors of Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and of several predominately Orthodox countries.

European Court ruling on cheaper imported second hand cars expected

The European Court will hear the Commission's suit against Greece for excessive charges on imported secondhand cars on May 29, and most sources in the Belgian capital say a win for the Commission is likely.

The Commission filed suit against Greece in June 1995 for non-harmonisation with EU legislation on the import of secondhand cars. Greece claims that it has imposed extra taxes on older technology cars as a disincentive because they would further harm th e environment and worsen air pollution.

The Commission however rebuts this argument by saying that negative repercussions on the environment should be countered with technical checks and not taxes.

The final ruling is expected to be issued by the full bench of the court later this year.

WEATHER

Fine weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today with local northerly winds, light to moderate, turning strong in the Aegean Sea. Athens will be sunny with temperatures ranging between 17-30C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 15-29C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 268.812 Pound sterling 436.857 Cyprus pd 531.910 French franc 46.965 Swiss franc 187.374 German mark 158.318 Italian lira (100) 15.997 Yen (100) 225.680 Canadian dlr. 194.015 Australian dlr. 209.907 Irish Punt 408.803 Belgian franc 7.669 Finnish mark 52.455 Dutch guilder 140.750 Danish kr. 41.569 Swedish kr. 35.045 Norwegian kr. 38.041 Austrian sch. 22.490 Spanish peseta 1.874 Port. Escudo 1.563

(M.P.)


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