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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-11-06

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, 06/11/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Parmenion '97 exercise a success
  • October inflation down to 4.7
  • PM chairs meeting on foreign policy
  • Self-styled mufti gets jail
  • Locals protest Capodistrias bill
  • Albanian youth drowns
  • Motorcyclists mark anniversary of Greek Cypriot murders
  • Social partners reach 'Confidence Pact towards 2000'
  • EU report: Greece to enter EMU in 2001
  • Greek 1998 budget due November 12
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Parmenion '97 exercise a success

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, commenting on the results of the Parmenion '97 military exercise that ended today on the island of Lesvos, said the military exercises confirmed Greece's defence capability, which was the country's contribution to cooperation, peace and stability in the region.

There were those, he said in a clear reference to Turkey, who sought other ways of resolving problems by destablising the region. The only way to resolve those problems, he added, was by the exercise of political will by all to work for peace and cooperation in the region, something which had been confirmed at the recent Balkan summit in Crete.

With regard to recent violations of Greek air space by Turkish fighter planes, the defence minister urged Turkey to realise it had nothing to gain by these actions but only created tension, and that it would be solely responsible for any risks created.

Asked to comment on a statement by Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz on the harassment of a C-130 carrying the minister to and from Cyprus, Tsohatzopoulos said Yilmaz' statement implied that Turkey in fact functioned as an international trouble-maker in the Aegean.

He observed that military exercises in the Aegean were the sole responsibility of the country's armed forces, as was also the case with Turkey, which could carry out its own exercises in its own air space.

The final phase of the Parmenion exercise was carried out in the Aghios Ioannis district of the island of Lesvos, with the combined forces, including flights by F-16, A7 Corsair, F-4 and Mirage 2000.

Also present, apart from the defence minister, was President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

October inflation down to 4.7

Consumer price inflation in October dropped to 4.7 percent from 4.9 percent in September, the national statistics service ESYE announced today.

It attributed the drop to a reduction in medicine prices and a good overall course in the prices of clothing, footwear and foodstuff prices.

ESYE anticipated that ifnlation would continue declining in November, thus containing the 0.6 point increase on the index to arise from the return of heating oil prices to the "basket" of prices on the basis of which inflation is measured.

ESYE did not rule out the cost-of-living running at about 5 percent at the end of the year.

PM chairs meeting on foreign policy

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today chaired a meeting of the Foreign Ministry leadership to examine current issues of foreign policy, focussing on this afternoon's off-the-agenda Parliamentary debate, at political party leaders' level, on national issues.

No statements were made after the meeting. Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou was absent from the meeting, as he is on a foreign visit.

Self-styled mufti gets jail

A court in Lamia, central Greece today sentenced a self-styled Moslem religious leader to 22 months' imprisonment for usurping religious authority.

Mehmet Aga was found guilty of unlawfully using the title of "mufti" when signing messages directed at Greece's Moslem minority which is concentrated in the northeast of the country.

The Education and Religious Affairs Ministry has appointed a mufti in accordance with Greek legislation, following a procedure which applies all over the world, including Turkey, where muftis are appointed, not elected.

Aga arrived in Lamia this morning on a coach accompanied by about 60 supporters and former independent Moslem deputy for Xanthi, Ahmet Faikoglou.

In statements to reporters, Faikoglou said the mufti appointed by the ministry was not acceptable to the Moslem minority, adding "tradition" dictated that Aga hold the post.

Aga's father was the mufti of Xanthi until his death in February 1990. Aga then refused to allow his name to be included on the list of candidates for the post, saying that he had been "elected" to the post and that the state had no right to be involved in the procedure.

Faikolglou himself has in the past acknowledged that Aga was "elected" by a show of hands, not even a formal ballot.

Aga was sentenced to 20 months' imprisonment in April this year after being found guilty on the same charge. He was released pending an appeal.

A number of similar cases are pending against Aga, whose trial today was followed by Turkish diplomats who travelled to Lamia from the embassy in Athens.

Locals protest Capodistrias bill

Residents from the community of Oropos today blocked the Ioannina-Preveza highway for one hour near the village of Lavra to protest the "Capodistrias" bill containing the government's plans to streamline local government.

The bill, currently being debated in Parliament, provides for the compulsory merger of small communities and has provoked protests throughout the country by residents fearful that their local identity is being threatened.

Today's protest was against the government's plans to merge the community of Oropos with the municipality of Lavrou.

Oropos was merged with neighbouring communities in 1974 and today numbers 2, 000 inhabitants.

Albanian youth drowns

A 15-year-old Albanian was presumed drowned today after trying to enter the country illegally by crossing the Kalamas River near Kyparissos in the prefecture of Thesprotia, northern Greece.

Alerted by compatriots of Niko Bregu, from Restan, Albania, police and local volunteers mounted a search but found no trace of the 15-year- old.

Bregu's compatriots told police that they last saw the youth being swept away by the river.

Motorcyclists mark anniversary of Greek Cypriot murders

Motorcyclists from Cyprus and Greece will set out from Kastanea on Greece's northeast border with Turkey on Saturday with destination Nicosia on the occasion of the first anniversary of the murders of two Greek Cypriots by Turkish troops and extremists as they protested for a free Cyprus.

Members of the Cyprus Federation of Motorcyclists and Greek riders will be marking the anniversary of the deaths of Tasos Isaac and Solomos Solomou.

Isaac was brutally beaten to death by Turkish occupation forces and members of the Turkish extreme-right group "Grey Wolves" during a peaceful demonstration in UN-controlled buffer zone on August 11, 1996.

His cousin, Solomou, was murdered inside the buffer zone three days later as he tried to pull down a Turkish flag. He was shot in cold blood by the commander of the Turkish troops and the "agriculture minister" of the self- styled Turkish Cypriot state in northern Cyprus, Kenan Akim.

The riders are expected to arrive in Nicosia on November 15, the anniversary of the unilateral declaration of "independence" by the illegal regime of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in 1983, which has since been recognised only by Turkey.

Social partners reach 'Confidence Pact towards 2000'

The text of a finalised agreement bearing the ambitious title "Confidence Pact towards 2000" was concluded between the government, trade unions and employers' organisations yesterday.

The agreement is expected to be officially approved at a plenary session of social partners' representatives on Monday after previously undergoing the test of approval by the trade unions themselves where disagreements among the various trade union groupings are already emerging.

Labour Undersecretary Christos Protopapas, considered the architect of the agreement, said he felt optimistic and stressed that such an agreement constitutes a necessity for the economy, society and the country.

Agreement between the social partners was based on the text presented by Mr. Protopapas and whose finalised shape will be publicised today after observations and corrections accepted will be included.

According to the text, on the question of incomes policy, the government commits itself to "safeguard and gradually improve" labour income.

Secondly, with regard to taxation reform, it promises relief benefitting low-wage earners, although there is no specific commitment to increase the level of tax-free income or an index-linked salary scale.

Thirdly, on the question of unemployment, the agreement reached anticipates direct measures for unemployed people under 29 and the longterm unemployed over 55.

A change in the development law was also agreed in the direction of supporting investments, employment and incentives for expanding into the Balkans and new markets in eastern Europe.

The extension of partial employment in the public sector was consolidated and, indeed, with provisions excluding permanent status for newly-appointed employees lying outside processes stipulated by the relevant Peponis law. All reference to the "overall settlement of working time", pursued by the government, was erased, as was the 35-hour working week proposal supported by the trade unions.

EU report: Greece to enter EMU in 2001

Accordig to a report in the publication "Economist Intelligence Unit" titled 'Europe', Greece will be ready to be admitted in the third stage of the European monetary unification in the year 2001.

The report says even though considerable progress has been made in public finances in Greece, there are still many problems. Apart from not having been aligned to the rest of the EU member-states, the Greek econony is only in the middle of a long-term s tability programme, while exports are facing a serious problem as far as competitiveness is concerned.

The conclusion about Greece's participation in the EU monetary union (EMU) is that "under pressure for EMU, progress has been achieved, but there is still a long and tough way to go". As far as the rest of the EU member- states are concerned, the report says that 10 out of 15 states will be admitted in the EMU in January 1999, according to the current timetable. These are Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany and The Netherlands, whose currencies have been retained stable in spite of some periods of uncertainty. Finland and Ireland have already fulfilled the EMU participation criteria, while the economies of Spain and Portugal are converging at a fast pace.

Italy is foreseen to enter the EMU in 2001, mainly due to its enormous debt of 123.5 percent of its NGP, instead of the 60 percent limit set by the Maastricht Treaty.

Greek 1998 budget due November 12

The 1998 budget will be tabled in parliament on November 12, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said yesterday after a three-hour meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

Mr. Papantoniou said the final recommendations of the government's economic staff had been formulated regarding 1998 incomes policy, which would go before the cabinet for approval on Friday, and would be contained in the new budget.

The budget will include an increase in revenues by one trillion drachmas and drastic cutbacks in spending.

Weather

Mostly fine weather for western Greece, eastern Macedonia, Thrace, and the islands of the eastern Aegean. Local clouds for the rest of the country. Weather in Athens today will be mostly mild, with temperatures ranging from 9-20 C. Partly cloudy for Thessaloniki, with temperatures of 9-15 C.

Foreign exchange

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 269.179 Pound sterling 452.808 Cyprus pd 531.613 French franc 46.541 Swiss franc 190.732 German mark 155.843 Italian lira (100) 15.924 Yen (100) 220.045 Canadian dlr. 193.281 Australian dlr. 189.472 Irish Punt 405.688 Belgian franc 7.559 Finnish mark 51.882 Dutch guilder 138.354 Danish kr. 40.972 Swedish kr. 35.752 Norwegian kr. 38.212 Austrian sch. 22.155 Spanish peseta 1.846 Port. Escudo 1.526

(M.P.)


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