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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-05

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, 05/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis, gov't respond to criticism over new NATO structure
  • Greek language programmes for Greeks abroad urged
  • SAE President asks US intervention for Patriarchate's protection
  • Condemnations of attack on Patriarchate pour in
  • Exhibition of 'Alexander and the East' inaugurated
  • Stolen ancient artifacts returned from Italy
  • Dutch House conditionally ratifies Greece's accession to Schengen
  • Gov't to clamp down on evasion of IKA contributions
  • Medicine prices reduced to about 22 per cent
  • Greek equities end slightly up after buying spree
  • Greek information tech firms on show in Bulgaria
  • Treasury bill auction by Bank of Greece
  • SEB conference on Euro currency
  • ESHEA warns of strike in mass media sector
  • Swiss Greeks donate one million drs for Elgin Marbles campaign
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis, gov't respond to criticism over new NATO structure

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday defended National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos' consent for the new NATO structure, reached in Brussels on Tuesday, which is due for ratification by the Alliance's foreign ministers on Dec. 16.

"Mr. Tsohatzopoulos acted in accordance with the decisions and guidelines set out by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), which by law, is the authority for such decisions. The decisions taken fully comply with the instructions given," Mr. Simitis said in an answer to criticism by several ruling PASOK deputies, Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis, a former defence minister, as well as opposition parties.

He charged that "certain individuals are seeking a policy of nationalist isolationism, namely, that Greece should withdraw".

"But that would put all the weapons in Turkey's hands," the premier said.

"We, however, want a strong Greece, a Greece with a voice and a presence, a Greece that determines the developments. And this is done with initiatives, with the determination of new policies," he added.

On Wednesday PASOK deputies Yiannis Harambopoulos, Anastasios Peponis and former PASOK undersecretary of defence Nikos Kouris raised objections to Greece's consent to NATO's new structure, saying that the nation was headed towards co-sovereignty in the Aegean with Turkey under US auspices. They added that this was serving a steadfast Turkish objective.

In the same spirit, Mr. Arsenis said that "Greece has entered a minefield".

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos later stressed that the defence of sovereign rights, national independence and national security would remain within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Greek armed forces under NATO's new structure. He added that the armed forces would continue in the future to exercise their jurisdiction "without any intervention or restriction from anywhere".

Both ruling and opposition deputies yesterday called on Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to brief all the relevent Parliamentary committees on the NATO agreement before Dec. 16.

Greek language programmes for Greeks abroad urged

The need for Greek language programmes for Greeks abroad was empasised yesterday by Grigoris Niotis, chairman of the parliamentary committee on overseas Greeks.

It was Mr. Niotis who, as undersecretary for Overseas Greeks, had undertaken the initiative to est ablish the SAE in 1995. He called for broad action plans of two-year duration to teach the Greek language to young Greeks abroad. Mr. Niotis, as well as other members of the committee, stressed the importance of finding other resources so that the SAE co uld become financially independent of the Greek government.

ND deputy George Kalatzis said that unity among all Greeks should be the SAE's primary goal, while Left Coalition deputy Petros Kounalakis drew attention to what he said were weaknesses in the SAE and called for a more democratic representation. He said he could not comprehend the reservations of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, considering the SAE's goals did not contradict the work of the Church, but in fact strengthened the convictions of diaspora Greeks that the maintenance of their Greekness was due to a large extent to the Church. The conference ends on Sunday.

SAE president asks US intervention for Patriarchate's protection

World Council of Hellenes (SAE) President Andrew Athens has addressed a letter to US President Bill Clinton, requesting dynamic intervention by Washington towards Ankara for the protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Patriarch Vartholomeos.

In his letter, Mr. Athens expresses the strong concern of expatriate Greeks over the bomb attack against the Patriarchate earlier this week.

"We are in Thessaloniki together with more than 340 elected representatives from Greek communities all over the world who represent approximately seven million Greeks from 141 countries and are participating in the second congress of ther World Council of Hellenes,... request from the government of the US to pressure the Turkish government to effectively protect the Ecumenical Patriarchate and his Holiness," the letter read.

Condemnations of attack on Patriarchate pour in

The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate yesterday decided to formally request the protection of Turkish law enforcement agencies.

To date, no evidence has surfaced about the identity or the motives of the Patriarchate bombers, while no extra police measures were taken to protect the Patriarchate against future attacks.

Condemnations over the Wednesday grenade attack on the Patriarchate came from all over the world.

Greek general consul Fotis Xidas, as well as his counterparts from Britain and the United States visited the Patriarch Vartholomeos to express their condolences over the wounding of Deacon Nektarios and to condemn the attack.

Representatives from the Vatican and the Church of England also visited the Fanar.

The Greek bureau of the Ipekci Committee for Greek-Turkish Friendship also issued a statement condemning the attack on the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul as well as another attack on a mosque in western Thrace, and has urged its bureau in Turkey to do the same.

"The Athens bureau of the Ipekci peace prize committee condemns this barbarous and cowardly bomb attack against the Ecumenical Patriarchate ... and urges all Ipekci prize-winners, Turkish citizens and politicians to react accordingly" said the statement.

"Extremist elements in both countries must realise that the overwhelming majority of both peoples want peace, friendship and cooperation," it said.

Exhibition of 'Alexander and the East' inaugurated

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday inaugurated the "Alexander and the East" archeaological exhibition in Thessaloniki.

"The exhibition reflects the grandeur of Greece many centuries ago and shows us how we can create this grandeur today," Mr.Simitis said.

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said during his address that "the legend of Alexander...is the well-known and the most powerful of all Greek legends..."

Stolen ancient artifacts returned from Italy

Several priceless ancient artifacts were repatriated yesterday after three years of judicial battles in Italian courts.

The 187 copper artifacts and Mycenean-era pots, which were illegally excavated in Greece and transported to Italy were taken to the National Archaeological Museum.

Dutch House conditionally ratifies Greece's accession to Schengen

The Dutch Parliament yesterday ratified the conditional and partial operational accession of Greece to the Schengen Treaty.

The issue was discussed in a public session of the Dutch Parliament's European affairs committee, where the representatives of government coalition parties expressed support for the partial implementation of the treaty in the case of Greece.

However, they stressed that an essential precondition for the final abolition of border controls with Greece is the effective control of Greece's external borders.

The Dutch Parliament ratified two relevant resolutions referring to the need to secure adequate control on Greece's external borders.

The Christian Democrat Party opposed ratification, claiming that for as long as Greece does not fulfill the preconditions concerning the control of external borders it will not vote in favour of its accession to the Schengen Treaty.

Dutch Foreign Undersecretary Patein said the Netherlands will ratify implementation of the Schengen Treaty in its entirety for Greece only after an objective assessment is made of all the measures the country will take to guard borders.

Gov't to clamp down on evasion of IKA contributions

The government said yesterday that it would take additional measures to clamp down on the evasion of social security contribution payments.

Speaking in Parliament, Social Security Undersecretary Nikos Farmakis said that the bill already prepared would not solve all the problems of social insurance but did not conflict with the social dialogue begun by the government with unions and employers.

Attacking the main opposition New Democracy party for its criticism of the bill, Mr. Farmakis said its provisions resolved problems relating to social security organisations and the insured, adding that comprehensive proposals would follow after social dialogue.

He accused New Democracy of not having specific proposals on the social security system.

Earlier, ND deputy George Souflias said that the social security system was in danger of collapse, under the weight of a 1.5 trillion drachma deficit.

During discussion of the bill, Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou revealed that contributions owing to the Social Security Foundation, IKA, totalled 347 billion drachmas and, together with fines, 630 billion drachmas.

Medicine prices reduced to about 22 per cent

A decision by the development and health ministries to abolish contributions in favour of third parties in the framework of implementing government policy on medicines has led to an average 22 per cent decrease in medicine prices.

Several weeks ago the government had decided a partial decrease in contributions in favour of third parties (EOF, TSAY, TEAYFE and TEOF), resulting in an average 12.6 per cent decrease in the retail prices of medicines.

Development Undersecretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis said the decision is aimed at restructuring the medicine market and will result in a total decrease in pharmaceutical expenses amounting to 120 billion drachmas.

Greek equities end slightly up after buying spree

Greek stocks ended 0.44 percent higher off the day's highs yesterday after prices gained 1.50 percent during trade but slumped due to profit takers raking in gains spanning more than a week.

The Athens general share index finished at 1550.32 points, gaining 10.60 percent over eight rising sessions. Turnover was 24.1 billion drachmas.

Sector indices ended mixed. Banks gained 0.90 percent, Insurance rose 1.05 percent, Leasing slid 1.07 percent, Investment slipped 0.29 percent, Construction edged down 0.02 percent, Industrials lost 0.11 percent, Miscellaneous slumped 1.17 percent and H olding gained 0.67 percent.

The parallel market index for smaller cap stocks finished 0.44 percent down.

Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) rose to 5,975 drachmas from 5,920.

Of 224 shares traded declines led advances by 100 to 97 with 27 issues remaining unchanged.

Gallis, Sigalas, Remek, Klaoudatos and Ridenco were the biggest percentage gainers and Lanakam, Allatini, Macedonia Textile Mills, Dane and Keranis were the main losers of the day.

Among blue chips National Bank of Greece ended at 27,350 drachmas, Ergobank at 16,000, Alpha Credit Bank at 17,400, Delta Dairy (common) at 3,445, Titan Cement (common) at 13,200 and Intracom (common) at 14,550.

Greek information tech firms on show in Bulgaria

The Association of Greek Information Technology Companies (SEPE) is taking part in Bait Expo 1997, a sector trade fair being held in the Bulgarian capital. The fair organised by the Bulgarian Association of Information Technology Firms (BAIT) ends tomorrow. BAIT allocated space at the trade fair to SEPE in return for receiving space at Greece's Infoworld 1998 exhibition to be held in May 1998.

SEPE is presenting its English-language guide containing information about its members at the fair, and hopes to bring Greek firms into closer touch with Bulgaria's market.

Treasury bill auction by Bank of Greece

The planned auction of treasury bills on Dec. 8 is considered crucial regarding the further de-escalation of interest rates to levels before the recent currency crisis.

The auction T-bills with a three-, six- and 12-month duration, dated Dec. 10, will take place at the Bank of Greece.

The sums to be made available are 60, 60, and 200 billion drachmas for each category.

The annual interest rate is expected to fall below 11.2 per cent.

SEB conference on Euro currency

A conference on the adoption of the common Euro currency in the European Union and its repercussions on industry is scheduled for Monday at the Federation of Greek Industries' (SEB) offices in Athens.

The conference is organised by SEB, Eurobank and the Federation for Economic and Monetary Union (AMUE).

National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will address the conference.

ESHEA warns of strike in mass media sector

Employees in the media sector warned yesterday that they will take strike actions unless economic and institutional requests are satisfied.

A relevant decision was taken at an extraordinary session by the Athens Journalists' Union's (ESHEA) strike committee yesterday, which is composed of the board and representatives of all journalists' organisations in the press and mass media sector.

The strike committee stressed that the sector "will give its own reply to the refusal of proprietors to justly and absolutely satisfy rational claims by staff at a time when (the proprietors) are massing excessive profits, having turned the press and mass media sector into a supermarket for offers, the staff members into galley crews and have exhausted all the limits of the public's patience with unbridled commercialisation."

Press employees call on employers to examine their claims for a satisfactory increase in remuneration, the safeguarding of jobs, an improvement in working conditions and the taking of measures concerning workplaces.

Swiss Greeks donate one million drs for Elgin Marbles campaign

Six Swiss Greeks have presented one million drachmas to President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos for the campaign to bring the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece. Dimitris Sarisavvas, president of the Federation of Greek associations and communities of Switzerland, Constantine Vlachos, Dimitris Bassias, Grigoris Korsavvas, George Tokalakis and Dimitris Tsarkovitsas donated the money to the president in Thessaloniki as their contribution to the ongoing efforts by the Melina Mercouri Foundation to bring the Marbles back.

Mr. Sarisavvas said the contribution was "a token of gratitude for what the homeland is doing for overseas Greeks".

WEATHER

Cloudy weather will prevail throughout Greece today with rain mainly in the west, Thrace, eastern Macedonia and the Aegean islands. Winds variable, light to strong. Possibility of evening showers in Athens with temperatures between 9-18C. Clouds and moderate winds in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 6-14C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 275.836 Pound sterling 463.066 Cyprus pd 532.506 French franc 46.479 Swiss franc 192.408 German mark 155.615 Italian lira (100) 15.874 Yen (100) 213.280 Canadian dlr. 194.035 Australian dlr. 185.325 Irish Punt 405.133 Belgian franc 7.543 Finnish mark 51.507 Dutch guilder 138.091 Danish kr. 40.876 Swedish kr. 35.498 Norwegian kr. 38.500 Austrian sch. 22.117 Spanish peseta 1.841 Port. Escudo 1.524

(C.E.)


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