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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-12-17

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, 17/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis: Greece doesn't want Turkey's exclusion from EU
  • New US ambassador to present credentials on Monday
  • Britain: Turkish freeze won't hold up Cyprus-EU talks
  • Europarliament report on human rights
  • Transport to be affected by 24-hour strike
  • Gligorov now brings up issue of 'minorities'
  • GSEE-ADEDY nationwide strike tomorrow
  • Tourism industry asks gov't to resolve E. Europe visa block
  • Greek EU fisheries monitoring committee begins meeting
  • Greek stocks slip in dull trade
  • Greece to join EU energy networks
  • Greece calls for revision of export subsidy system for oranges
  • 400 million drs in loans to Valkan Export
  • HEPO participation at German exhibition
  • Measures announced to combat sports violence
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis: Greece doesn't want Turkey's exclusion from EU

Prime Minister Costas Simitis categorically stated yesterday that Greece did not want the exclusion of Turkey or any other country from cooperation with the European Union.

Mr. Simitis was speaking after briefing opposition party leaders on the outcome of the Luxembourg EU summit over the weekend, in which Turkey failed to make the list of candidates for entry due to its poor human rights record, difficult relations with Greece and its stance on the Cyprus issue, apart from economic considerations.

What Greece does want, and what was accepted by EU leaders in Luxembourg, Mr. Simitis said, was that this cooperation should be based on "rules of the game" which are accepted by all countries and pertain to "the terms, arrangements, values, rule of law and in general all those principles which consolidate peaceful cooperation".

New US ambassador to present credentials on Monday

New US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns will present his credentials to President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Monday. Mr. Burns, a former US State Department spokesman, yesterday held a reception at his official residence to meet Greek and foreign reporters, with whom he said he wanted to maintain an "open-door relationship". Mr. Burns, who arrived in Greece to take up his new post last week, said he and his family wanted to travel throughout the country to get to know Greece and its peopl e as much as possible.

Britain: Turkish freeze won't hold up Cyprus-EU talks

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, speaking here yesterday, warned Ankara against any attempt to annex the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus.

"Any attempt by Turkey to annex the northern part of Cyprus will be in opposition to international law," said Mr. Cook during a press conference on the sidelines of a NATO ministerial meeting.

"If Turkey wishes to become a member of the EU, it cannot do so by blocking the admission of another country," he added.

Yesterday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem threatened that Ankara would proceed with the annexation if the EU began admission talks with the Cypriot government next March.

At last week's EU Luxembourg summit, the Union's 15 leaders rejected Turkey's membership application but, however, invited Ankara to attend the European Conference, to be held in Britain next year.

"We left the door open, we advise Turkey to walk in," Mr. Cook said last night.

Foreign Office Minister Doug Henderson told reporters that Turkish objections should not be allowed to hold up negotiations on the admission of Cyprus into the EU. He said that on that issue, "no other nation has a say".

Europarliament report on human rights

A draft report on human rights by the European Parliament committee on political freedom and internal affairs took under advise the measures that Athens has taken to free conscientious objectors, although it considers them inadequate or discriminatory.

The fact that Greek ID cards include information on the religion of a person is also mentioned in the draft report, "since this is an infringement on the private life of persons and could lead to discrimination."

Greece is among other countries mentioned in the draft report, which will be tabled for approval on Jan. 26 by the committee and will reach the Europarliament for approval in February.

Transport to be affected by 24-hour strike

Transport in Athens and around the country will be disrupted tomorrow as both civil aviation and Athens' urban transport unions stage work stoppages. The civil aviation union (OSPA) is to hold two four-hour stoppages from 06.00 to 10.00 and 16.00 to 20.0 0 within the framework of the 24-hour strike called for that day by the General Confederation of Trade Unions of Greece (GSEE). Athens' blue and green buses as well as the trolley buses are to be off the roads for the entire 24-hours. The respective unions are demanding the purchase of new vehicles and the recruitment of more staff.

Gligorov now brings up issue of 'minorities'

The president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Kiro Gligorov stressed for the first time in public yesterday that his country has "the right and obligation to raise the issue of the protection of the rights of its minority with international organisations" who live in neighbouring countries and to "show solidarity to the 'Macedonian' people living in them."

Mr. Gligorov, who was addressing his country's Parliament, referred to relations between FYROM and Greece.

On the question of the landlocked, former Yugoslav republic's name, he maintained that FYROM proposes to the UN that its constitutional name be used internationally, while in consultation with Greece the latter can refer to FYROM with the name it consid ers most suitable.

He clarified that FYROM cannot oblige Greece to call it in the way it desires and claimed that in this way Greece was given the opportunity to find a different, mutually acceptable solution, despite the fact that this would not be accepted very well in his own country.

However, he said Athens has reacted negatively towards the proposal so far, but conceded that the extension of talks on the name has a negative influence, particularly on an international scale, and more specifically, on relations between FYROM and the European Union.

He attributed to Greece the delay in the implementation of the cooperation agreement between his country and Europe, which FYROM expects will start implementation as of Jan. 1, 1998.

Mr. Gligorov said, however, that the extension of talks and the continuation of the disagreement "can fuel unrealistic expectations, that it is possible for us to succumb to certain pressures resulting in us losing our national identity and renouncing vital national interests."

GSEE-ADEDY nationwide strike tomorrow

Trade unionists believe tomorrow's 24-hour nationwide general strike by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) will have an greater turnout than a strike on Oct. 23. For the fir st time in recent years, the transport sector will be the focus of the strike, with employees in public transportation, the Piraeus-Kifissia metro and OSE trains all set to strike, while employees at various sectors of Olympic Airways are to stage from 24-hour strikes to four-hour work stoppages.

Merchant saemen in Piraeus will stop work for four hours from 10 in the morning. The industrial action is taken in protest against the government's incomes' policy and the 1998 collective labour contract. GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos has said that trade unions have rejected the incomes' policy contained in the 1998 state budget, and that the strike also raises demands for an increase in the non-taxable income brackets and measures against unemployment .

Tourism industry asks gov't to resolve E. Europe visa block

Greek tourist industry representatives urged the government yesterday to resolve difficulties in issuing visas to Greece, especially in Bulgaria where none are being given.

"In the former east European countries the visa problem is permanent as Greek consular authorities are not in a position to assist people," the Greek Association of Tourism and Travel Agencies (HATTA) said in a statement.

In a call to Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Development Minister Vasso Papandreou, HATTA claimed that the consulate in Bulgaria had cited uncertainty over new visa rules under the terms of the Schengen Agreement as the reason for non-issue.

Many visitors had cancelled trips to Greece for the holiday season and travel bureaus may have to pay hotels for reservations already made, the statement said. "A permanent solution has to be found unless we decide we do not want east European tourists , which is something the state has to tell us," it said.

According to HATTA, a temporary solution would be to allow visas to be issued at the border.

Greek EU fisheries monitoring committee begins meeting

A monitoring committee for the European Union's fisheries programme in Greece began a meeting on the island of Mytilini yesterday that will include talks with representatives of cooperatives.

The meeting, attended by the agriculture ministry's secretary general, will also visit a fisheries' standardisation unit and watch a display of fishing methods.

Greek stocks slip in dull trade

Greek equities ended lower in subdued trading on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday.

Investors remained on the sidelines awaiting fresh incentives and a final debate on next year's budget in parliament.

The general index closed 0.53 percent lower at 1,515.19 points.

Trade was thin with turnover at 10.2 billion drachmas.

Sector indices lost ground. Banks fell 0.82 percent, Insurance eased 0.46 percent, Leasing was 0.43 percent down, Construction fell 1.05 percent, Industrials were 0.42 percent off, Miscellaneous dropped 0.87 percent and Holding fell 0.05 percent. Invest ment bucked the trend to end 0.35 percent higher.

The parallel market index for small cap companies fell 0.89 percent, while the FTSE/ASE index eased 0.65 percent to 866.83 points.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 125 to 78 with another 29 issues unchanged.

Bank of Athens, Elve, Keranis and Demetriadis scored the biggest percentage gains at the upper 8.0 percent volatility limit while Lampropoulos, Athinea, Viosol and Nafpaktos Mills suffered the heaviest losses.

National Bank of Greece ended at 26,000 drachmas, Ergobank at 15,090, Alpha Credit Bank at 16,700, Delta Dairy at 3,330, Titan Cement at 13,000, Intracom at 13,950 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6, 080.

Greece to join EU energy networks

Greece will be linked to the European Union's energy networks for the first time since it became a member of the Community, despite the fact that it doesn't share common land borders with EU countries.

According to sources in the European Commission's energy directorate, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has personally taken an initiative to solve a number of environmental problems faced by the Greek government.

Italy recently informed the European Commission, the EU's executive, that it was ready to link its energy distribution network to the Greek network.

The European Union has earmarked 214 million Ecus to fund a project linking the two countries' energy systems in the Adriatic Sea as part of the EU's trans-European infrastructure networks.

Greece calls for revision of export subsidy system for oranges

Greece, Spain and Portugal yesterday called for a revision of the export subsidies system for oranges, which are currently posting a surplus on the world market.

Speaking at the EU farm ministers' council, Greek Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas described the system as "inefficient" and hindering the Greek export effort.

EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler acknowledged the difficult situation in the market, noting in particular the record crops in the US and Brazil, while promising to review the system.

The three countries, along with France and Italy, also expressed strong opposition to a Commission report regarding the effects of trade concessions to third countries in the Mediterranean basin.

Mr. Tzoumakas stressed that at best, the report could be considered as an inadequate comment on statistical figures, and of doubtful value.

The ministers' council ultimately accepted that the report constituted a first step in assessing the impact of agreements with third countries.

400 million drs in loans to Valkan Export

The Valkan Export firm was given emergency financing of 400 million drachmas by eight Greek banks, beginning yesterday.

National, Commercial, Ionian, General, Attika, Macedonia-Thrace, Egnatia and Crete banks agreed to fund the enterprise.

Each bank will provide 50 million drachmas and disbursements, started as of yesterday.

Some 23 banks have received from Valkan about 11.3 billion drachmas from January 1995 to June 1996, an amount accounting for 47 per cent of its debts.

HEPO participation at German exhibition

The Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) will participate in the international food and beverages exhibition "Grune Woche" in Berlin between Jan. 16 and 25.

Measures announced to combat sports violence

Public Order Minister George Romeos announced a series of measures yesterday aimed at maintaining order at first division soccer and basketball matches.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Romeos said the measures require cooperation of the League of Professional Soccer Teams (EPAE), the general secretariat of sports and the for-profit companies owning the professional football and basketball teams.

Among others, EPAE is called upon to appoint a security official who will assess the security risk of each match and will cooperate with police for the specific match; printed material advising against violence, which will be distributed before and duri ng matches as well as artistic and musical events before, during and after matches.

Pro teams' management is advised to restrict the number of persons having access to the court or pitch and to ensure that passes bear the number of the seat and the name of the bearer, while passes must not be issued in cases of repeated offences.

Lastly, the general secretariat of sport will appoint a prosecutor for every high risk match who will issue relevant instructions after consulting officials, while any team punished will be obliged to play without fans. Finally, electronic control doors will be installed in all stadiums as well as cameras.

WEATHER

Light rain is forecast in most parts of Greece today with light snowfall in the mountainous regions of central and northern Greece. Winds will be variable, strong to gale force. Athens will be cloudy with light rain and temperatures between 4-9C. Clouds and sleet in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-5C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 278.256 Pound sterling 454.058 Cyprus pd 533.696 French franc 46.697 Swiss franc 193.812 German mark 156.414 Italian lira (100) 15.960 Yen (100) 212.457 Canadian dlr. 195.960 Australian dlr. 180.643 Irish Punt 403.744 Belgian franc 7.580 Finnish mark 51.832 Dutch guilder 138.791 Danish kr. 41.053 Swedish kr. 35.829 Norwegian kr. 38.162 Austrian sch. 22.231 Spanish peseta 1.847 Port. Escudo 1.532

(C.E.)


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