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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-11-15

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, 15/11/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis announces measures to assist youth
  • US can do more on Cyprus, Pangalos says
  • Kathimerini report denied
  • Criticism from main opposition leader
  • Two more quakes since yesterday
  • US Congress urged to recognise Greek sovereignty over Imia
  • Police beef up security ahead of Polytechnic anniversary
  • Damanaki press conference on candidacy for Athens mayor
  • Papandreou raises Olympic truce idea with UNESCO
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis announces measures to assist youth

Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced yesterday a series of measures aimed at what he called "freeing creative forces and at achieving social solidarity" so that young people would not fall victim to economic crisis.

Addressing a special conference on youth held by the ruling PASOK party's central committee, Mr. Simitis referred at length to the problems facing today's youth, problems which he said included education, military service and unemployment.

Observing that the percentage of the Greek workforce who were self-employed (51 per cent) was the highest in Europe, the prime minister stressed the importance of supporting business ventures by young people through flexible funding programmes.

He announced that from 1998-2000, all unemployed would be able to join three-year subsidisation programmes. These provided 50,000 people with daily allowances of 4,000 drachmas for 18 months. Another 20,000 would be able to register at vocational traini ng centres and those run by the state employment organisation (OAED). A total of 200,000 unemployed young adults would be able to take advantage of these programmes, Mr. Simitis said.

Meanwhile, the creation of 1,500 new day nurseries would benefit more working mothers, while the government was planning assistance for young farmers in the form of tax breaks, funding, leasing and other facilities in order to encourage more of the coun try's youth to remain on the land.

He also urged all young people to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, which he said required the participation of all young people. At the same time he referred to the government's initiatives to support young athletes around the country.

The problem of drug addiction, meanwhile, although not as widespread as in other European Union member-states, was on the rise and required a comprehensive solution including support for rehabilitation centres, prevention, voluntary workers and coopera tion within the EU.

The country's youth, he said, was the generation that could "reconcile democracy with the market, growth with justice and politics with culture".

Referring to other matters, the prime minister clarified that there was presently no issue of changing the status of PASOK's Youth organisation by placing it under the party mechanism as called for by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos in an executive bureau session.

On his part, Mr. Pangalos said that the PASOK youth organisation should cease existence as an autonomous group and be included in the party.

Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou called for the organisational inclusion of the youth organisation within the party, before detailing the government's measures for increasing employment among young people.

Commenting on the same issue, PASOK Youth Secretary Tonia Antoniou said that the existence of a political youth organisation could not be an organisational mechanism or a mechanism for manipulating youth.

"A political youth organisation is needed as a maleable tool for liberating social forces, popular imagination and the authenticity of young thought. Not as a photocopy of the 'party of elders'," she said.

Referring to particular problems of youth, Ms Antoniou cited a number of issues on which the government should focus its attention, including:

A safeguarding of the public and free character of education at all levels

Securing consensus among all those involved in the educational process without submitting to parochial trade unionist demands.

Acceleration and implementation of educational reform with a bold increase in resources as well as strong political will.

A gradual adoption of the 35-hour working week, and finally,

Career advice as key in the planning of employment, education and training.

US can do more on Cyprus, Pangalos says

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday called on special US presidential emissary Richard Holbrooke and Washington to alter their stance on the Cyprus issue, saying the US should use its leverage to pressure Turkey into cooperating towards resolvin g the Cyprus problem.

Speaking after briefing President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on recent foreign policy developments, he said that Mr. Holbrooke's initiative was "important" in as far as the US undertook to use "all the means at its disposal to pressure Turkey .

"There have been plenty of proposals in the past, with the best of intentions, and similar initiatives have been undertaken," he observed.

Mr. Holbrooke visited Nicosia and Ankara earlier this week and later briefed Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis in Brussels on his talks in the two capitals.

He did not visit Athens as Prime Minister Costas Simitis was busy with the tabling of the budget, while Mr. Pangalos himself was in Madrid this week.

Mr. Pangalos said that the US could exert pressure by means of the military supplies it gave Turkey and which were used in Cyprus. He suggested that the US could limit those supplies or enforce a ban on their use on the Aegean coast or in Cyprus.

He also noted that Turkey was economically dependent on the US. Responding to criticism by the US envoy that the European Union had not undertaken any initiatives on the Cyprus issue, Mr. Pangalos said:

"Any effort by the EU to find a solution does not require an American mediator. We can do this by ourselves."

Kathimerini report denied

In addition, Mr. Pangalos said a plan for a tri-zonal solution attributed to Mr. Holbrooke and published in yesterday's issue of "Kathimerini" was "unworthy of denial or comment", adding that a similar plan had been recently published in a Turkish Cypriot publication.

"I am not aware of such a proposal by Mr. Holbrooke," said the foreign minister.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas later categorically rejected Kathimerini's front-page report, saying it was "completely wrong".

Criticism from main opposition leader

Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis called for a "strong and nationally dignified" foreign policy while touring Rhodes yesterday.

The ND leader also accused the government for lacking on the issues of regional development and infrastructure works.

"Our foreign policy must exit the vicious circle of passivism and submissiveness. Because I believe that Greece must show and defend its just causes, its national interests and its sovereign rights with resoluteness, something which means a strong and n ationally dignified foreign policy. Resoluteness and clear messages distance the dangers and discourage provocations," he said.

Replying to Mr. Karamanlis' statement, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas reminded him that the premier visited Cyprus at a time of crisis, while the government went ahead with joint military exercises between Greece and Cyprus within the framework of the joint defence doctrine.

Mr. Reppas said that at the same time the government succeeded in having Turkey's relations with the European Union defined by Greek-Turkish relations and its position on the Cyprus issue.

Lastly, he accused ND of doing nothing in the past and of lacking a policy at present.

Two more quakes since yesterday

Another earth tremor, this time with an epicentre in the eastern end of the Gulf of Corinth and measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale, was felt in Corinth and Attica this morning at 10.30.

Meanwhile last night's 5.5 Richter quake, which occurred at 23.40 in the sea bed between the eastern Aegean islands of Hios and Lesvos, is considered by seismologists to have been the main quake and not the forerunner of a larger shock.

No damages have been reported from either quake.

US Congress urged to recognise Greek sovereignty over Imia

WASHINGTON (ANA - T. Ellis) A draft resolution was presented in the US House of Representatives a few days ago calling on the body to officially recognise that the Imia isles belong to Greece.

The draft resolution was introduced by Greek-American Representative Mike Papas, a Congressman from New Jersey.

"Congress feels that the Imia islets in the Aegean Sea comprise a sovereign part of Greece according to international law," Mr. Papas proposal reads, which was signed by another 20 Congressmen. The draft resolution was tabled in the foreign affairs comm ittee.

In the draft resolution mention is made of Turkey's dispute of Gre-ece's sovereignty over the isles, which Athens maintains are part of its territory based on the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, an Italian-Turkish agreement in 1932 and the Paris Treaty of 1 947.

In addition, a Europarliament decision on Feb. 15, 1996 also backing the delineation of the sea borders of the two countries based on the aforementioned is mentioned.

Police beef up security ahead of Polytechnic anniversary

Police have stepped up patrols in the area of the Athens Polytechnic in downtown Athens and other school buildings as students prepare to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the uprising against the military junta Monday.

Security has been tightened at all tertiary institutions around the city to avert any recurrence of vandalism or violence that has plagued past anniversaries of the occasion. The three days of celebrations have often been marred by pitched street ba ttles between police and masked youths, many of whom are self-styled anarchists.

Polytechnic authorities have fortified the historic school buildings against possible vandalism by youths who take refuge from police in the school grounds, which police are barred from entering. One of the buildings burned down during the anniversary six years ago and has now been almost completely restored.

Earlier this month, a parliament session was held between Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis, Public Order Minister George Romeos and Polytechnic authorities, with discussion focusing on ways to avert incidents during the celebration.

University officials said yesterday they would be in constant contact with the public order and education ministries during the weekend's celebrations to coordinate activity.

Students and teachers have organised their own patrols of school buildings to prevent any vandalism to property.

Events will culminate with a rally on Monday, the actual anniversary of the uprising.

Damanaki press conference on candidacy for Athens mayor

Maria Damanaki took the initiative yesterday and sidestepped her own party by holding a press conference to announce her desire to run for the post of Athens mayor during next year's municipal elections.

However, she said her final decision will be made once she has met with the leaders of PASOK, the Left Coalition, the Democratic Socialist party, Political Spring and the Communist Party of Greece, although the latter is unlikely to agree to a meeting.

Ms. Damanaki, a former Coalition leader, said she had decided to go ahead after repeated stalling in meetings with PASOK and the Coalition over procedural details and party tactics.

She said that now was the time for positive initiatives and for attention to focus on the problems faced by the city and its inhabitants.

Ms. Damanaki said she was willing to assume the responsibility of her candidacy herself, and urged the parties to assume their own responsibilities and to clarify their stance.

The Coalition leadership was not previously informed of Ms. Damanaki's intention to hold a press conference. The Coalition deputy said she respected party procedures in both her own party and PASOK but said her initiative had been aimed at a "disengagem ent".

It was later announced that Ms. Damanaki had had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Costas Simitis shortly before her press conference. The call had been initiated by Ms. Damanaki.

Asked to comment, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Ms Damanaki could meet with the prime minister when she requested a meeting.

Papandreou raises Olympic truce idea with UNESCO

PARIS (ANA) - A meeting between Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and UNESCO Director General Federico Mayor was held yesterday to discuss a Greek initiative to revive the idea of an Olympic truce. The initiative is being coordinated by Mr. Pap andreou.

The Greek delegation briefed Mr. Mayor on its contacts with the International Olympic Committee as well as Greece's decision to co-sponsor the draft UN resolution on the observance of the truce during the Winter Olympics in Japan in 1998.

Also discussed was the use of ancient Olympia as a site for international meetings and confidence building on peace-related issues.

WEATHER

Rain is forecast for most parts of Greece today. Winds will be southerly, moderate to strong. Temperatures in Athens will range between 13-20C, while in Thessaloniki from 9-16C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 270.003 Pound sterling 456.915 Cyprus pd 531.315 French franc 46.517 Swiss franc 192.423 German mark 155.789 Italian lira (100) 15.921 Yen (100) 214.728 Canadian dlr. 191.853 Australian dlr. 187.290 Irish Punt 406.918 Belgian franc 7.554 Finnish mark 51.792 Dutch guilder 138.205 Danish kr. 40.936 Swedish kr. 35.795 Norwegian kr. 38.142 Austrian sch. 22.130 Spanish peseta 1.848 Port. Escudo 1.528

(Y.B.)


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