Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-16
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 16/01/1998 (ANA)
- Greece willing to help resolve Kosovo problem
- US Commerce Secretary due in Athens
- Athens to host Balkan conference in June
- Fishermen extend port protests
- Cars torched during student protest
- US, British ambassadors briefed on Turkish provocations
- Gov't lashes back at opposition
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece willing to help resolve Kosovo problem
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou told Parliament today that
Greece would be willing to host Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic,
Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano and the leader of the ethnic Albanians
in Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova within the framework of any effort to resolve the
Papandreou was replying to a question tabled by main opposition New
Democracy deputy Ioannis Varvitsiotis following the recent student uprising
in Pristina and the activities of the self-proclaimed "liberation army of
Albanian speakers of Kosovo".
The minister said Greece's position on the problem was identical to the
official position of the European Union, namely that it rejected the option
of independence for Kosovo and respected the borders of the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia, coupled with prospects for wide-ranging autonomy
for the province.
According to Papandreou, the recent student demonstrations in Pristina
arose from the non-implementation of an education agreement between
Milosevic and Rugova.
Papandreou strongly criticised the wave of "terrorist, criminal activities"
by the self-proclaimed "liberation army of Albanian speakers of Kosovo" and
condemned "the logic of using violence" in the region.
He also noted Greece's substantial contribution with regard to the first
meeting in 50 years between the leaders of Albania and Yugoslavia, Nano and
Milosevic, on the sidelines of the recent summit on Crete.
US Commerce Secretary due in Athens
World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Andrew Athens arrives here
today, invited by U.S. Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns, to take part in
talks on boosting Greek-US trade relations, currently standing at 1.5
Also participating in the talks, which begin tomorrow, will be U.S.
Secretary of Commerce William Daley, the first member of the Clinton
administration to visit Greece.
Daley told reporters in Washington that he would also promote the
participation of U.S. firms in tenders announced by the Greek governnment
for state procurements, while also naming the sectors of telecommunications
and environmental protection as areas of investment potential.
Athens told the ANA that Daley, whome he met with earlier this week, would
convey the U.S. interest in expanding trade relations with Greece as "the
Greek market is an important factor of political and economic stability in
He also said "we urged Mr. Daley to also visit the Ecumenical Orthodox
Patriarchate of Constantinople as well, and await a positive result".
Athens to host Balkan conference in June
The European Socialist Party (ESP) will hold a Balkan Conference in Athens
in June, in a follow-up to a similar conference in Thessaloniki last April
that examined issues of security, stability, economic development and the
creation of European institutions in the Balkans, at which representatives
of socialist, social democrat and labour parties of all Balkan countries
were invited for the first time.
The issue of security and stability in the Balkans was at the centre of
discussions in Strasbourg today by the ESP Presidium, which unanimously
adopted a proposal by Greek National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos
representing the ruling PASOK party and Foreign Undersecretary Yannos
Kranidiotis, a member of the Presidium.
The Presidium also approved a proposal by the two Greek representatives for
hosting a European Conference on employment, social security and welfare
state issues next summer in Greece.
Kranidiotis further briefed the ESP Presidium on the positive results of
the Southeastern European Heads of State and Government Conference held
early December in Crete, and on the "continuing, unacceptable and
provocative attitude of Turkey" after the EU summit in Luxembourg.
Fishermen extend port protests
Fishermen and sponge divers protesting the government's new tax rules
obliging them to maintain credit and debit ledgers today continued to
blockade the ports of the islands of Leros, Patmos, Naxos, Kalymnos,
Iraklion and Santorini for the fifth consecutive day.
A fishermen's union spokesman told ANA that the blockades will be extended
to the islands of Ikaria, Samos and Fournoi as of this afternoon.
Before the new tax regulations, fishermen were included in the same tax
category as farmers and were exempt from paying vallue-added tax (VAT) on
The spokesman said that under the new regulations fishermen will be obliged
to install cash registers in their boats, maintain credit and debit ledgers
and pay approximately two million dr. a year more in taxes, "which will
annihilate us financially".
He also argued that most of the fishing boats were too small for a cash
register, which would take up precious space, while the humidity at sea
would cause constant break-down of the registers.
The blockades have caused hardships to Greek coastal shipping, forcing the
cancellation of the routes of two car ferries from Iraklion to Piraeus,
while three more ships were anchored outside the port unable to dock.
The striking fishermen also refused to allow a tanker carrying fuel to an
airforce unit to set sail, as well as several ships carrying perishable
Economy Undersecretary George Drys charged in a radio interview today that
the blockades were "politically motivated", adding that "no one has asked
the fishermen to install cash registers" on their boats.
Cars torched during student protest
An otherwise peaceful protest march by students from the Propylea in
central Athens to the Education Ministry was marred by the explosion of a
makeshift bomb that caused damage to a state-owned vehicle parked near the
According to informed sources, the bomb was placed by self-styled
anarchists mingling with the students.
The march was supervised by a large riot police contingent.
The attack follows two separate bomb attacks last night in the central
Athens suburb of Zographou.
In the first incident, a private school bus belonging to the Platon school
was seriously damaged by a makeshift bomb. No one has claimed responsibility
for the attack.
Meanwhile, a bus belonging to the urban transport company (OASA) parked
near Zographou cemetery and university campus also sustained serious damage
from petrol bombs allegedly thrown by anarchists.
Shortly after today's incident in central Athens, a group of youths stopped
a Mercedes car being driven near the Polytechnic, forced the driver to get
out and set fire to the vehicle with a petrol bomb.
The blaze which caused serious damage to the car was put out by firemen.
US, British ambassadors briefed on Turkish provocations
US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns was summoned to the foreign ministry
yesterday by the head of the Greek-Turkish affairs department, Ilias Klis,
in order to be briefed on intensifying Turkish provocativeness in the
Sources said that Mr. Burns was, among others, briefed on yesterday's
incident near the Imia islets, in which two Turkish fishing boats
approached, accompanied by a Turkish coastguard vessel.
All three trespassers withdrew from the area when a Greek coastguard vessel
headed to the area. The same sources said that both Mr. Burns and the
British ambassador, Sir Michael Llewelyn Smith, were summoned to the
foreign ministry on the instructions of Foreign Minister Theodoros
Gov't lashes back at opposition
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas accused main opposition New Democracy
party leader Costas Karamanlis of irresponsibility and lying, after
statements the ND leader made yesterday on the state of the economy and the
government's economic policy.
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday
accused the government of lying when saying that no new taxes would be
imposed, and of a lack of boldness in introducing structural changes and
Referring to the recent profiteering attacks on the drachma, Mr. Karamanlis
said it was due to the lack of confidence in the Greek economy.
Mr. Reppas called on Mr. Karamanlis not to refer to these issues "with such
irresponsibility" and added that the government contrasts the truth of its
works with the lies in the ND leader's words.
He further said that with his statements yesterday, the ND leader exceeded
his own self and accused him of wilfully concealing the truth on such
issues as the achievement of convergence targets, unemployment and the need
for structural incisions.
Mr. Reppas said Greece was very close to achieving convergence criteria, on
the question of unemployment it has far lower rates than most European
Union countries, while all structural incisions which have been made were
carried out by the present PASOK government.
Partly cloudy weather is forecast throughout Greece today with the
possibility of showers in the west of the country. Local fog in the
morning. Winds will be light. Athens will partly cloudy with temperatures
between 7-16C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-11C.
Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.369
Pound sterling 466.438 Cyprus pd 535.184
French franc 46.731 Swiss franc 192.478
German mark 156.513 Italian lira (100) 15.911
Yen (100) 218.260 Canadian dlr. 198.956
Australian dlr. 186.496 Irish Punt 390.451
Belgian franc 7.586 Finnish mark 51.709
Dutch guilder 138.885 Danish kr. 41.095
Swedish kr. 35.579 Norwegian kr. 37.910
Austrian sch. 22.247 Spanish peseta 1.847
Port. Escudo 1.532