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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-02-02

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 02/02/1998 (ANA)


  • Gov't, opposition grapple with farmers, unions
  • Athens calls for investigation into mass graves claims
  • Christodoulakis predicts good news on inflation, deficits
  • FM Pangalos meets with Albanian MPs
  • US military official to visit Athens
  • Minor quake rattles Athens
  • Athens to host Royaumont initiative meeting
  • Criminal charges in store over Dystos sinking
  • Five skiers rescued from snowbound mountains
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Gov't, opposition grapple with farmers, unions

The conflict between trade unions and the government over a controversial provision on labour relations in public utilities (DEKO) comes to a peak today, with a rally organised by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSSE) outside Parliament to coincide with the debate of the provision.

The vote on the provision has more trouble in store for the leadership of both major parties, PASOK and New Democracy, with many PASOK deputies having voiced objections to the contents and usefulness of the provision.

Some main opposition ND deputies are also opposed to the party's negative stance. According to sources, the opposition is likely to require a roll- call vote.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis and PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis have scheduled a meeting with a loaded agenda a few hours before the debate on the crucial amendment, and they are considered certain to discuss the stand of ruling party deputies who disagree with the manner in which the issue has been handed by the National Economy Ministry.

Government sources said despite objections, PASOK deputies will vote in favour of the amendment.

Today's schedule of industrial action in public transportation includes work stoppages by the Athens-Piraeus railway (HSAP) from 3 pm, trolley bus service and OASA from 5 pm, all until the end of the evening shift. Disruptions are also expected to both international and domestic flight schedules by the national air carrier, Olympic Airways.

Farmers from Thessaly are taking action in their tractors as of today, to follow up the escalation of action in the past month. Hundreds of tractors are expected to line up on both sides of the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway, from Tempi to Mikrothives, in protest against the government's agricultural policy.

Members of the Panthessaliki Coordinating Committee of Struggle have given reassurances that, at least at the present phase, they will not block the highway or disrupt traffic.

A demand by farmers to meet Prime Minister Costas Simitis has already been rejected, while a meeting with Agriculture Minister Stefanos Tzoumakas seems to be out of the question, as farmers say there is no understanding between them and the minister.

Athens calls for investigation into mass graves claims

The government today described as "a major issue of a humanitarian nature" the revelations of a former soldier in the Turkish army about mass graves in the occupied northern part of Cyprus.

According to a report in the pro-Kurdish daily "Ozgur Politika", some 100 Greek Cypriot civilians, mostly old people and children, were killed and buried near Nicosia during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

A 45-year-old Kurd, Mustafa Ongan, told the paper he was serving with the Turkish army at the time of the invasion and was sent to Cyprus with his regiment.

According to Ongan, Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officers ordered the killing of fleeing civilians who were later buried in mass graves.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the account provided by Ongan must be investigated, noting that the issue in question "does not coincide with details which have been provided to date".

Underlining that Athens and Nicosia were collaborating closely, Reppas said this "movement" may lead to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan changing his position and appointing a representative for the issue of the hundreds of persons missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island republic.

Christodoulakis predicts good news on inflation, deficits

Inflation is expected to drop below 4.5 percent in the next few months, and deficits will be further reduced this year, Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis said today.

Speaking on the country's economy in Kavala, northern Greece, Christodoulakis said that GNP had risen by 3.5 percent for the first time in a decade.

He also said 60,000 new jobs had been created in 1997, and stressed: "We are among the few European countries that succeeded in improving its economy while at the same time increasing employment."

"We are also among the few EU countries in which although unemployment remains, it is not on the rise but is falling, albeit not as fast as we would like. But we are trying," Christodoulakis added.

FM Pangalos meets with Albanian MPs

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos today received a delegation of deputies from Albania's Human Rights Union party for talks on the restoration of order and normality in the neighbouring country, the promotion of Greek investments and institutional changes for the restoration of democracy in Albania.

The Human Rights Union draws most of its support from the ethnic Greek minority in Albania.

In statements after the talks, Pangalos stressed that the Greek government was closely following the issue of the restoration of order in Albania and making every effort to contribute to economic reconstruction in the neighbouring country while supporting Tirana's bid to participate in European Union procedures.

While describing the current situation in Albania as "not perfect", Pangalos said it was nevertheless better than before and assured the delegation, headed by its president, Vassilis Melos, that Greece would continue to support Albania as far as possible and in all sectors.

Melos thanked the Greek government for its support in helping Albania overcome its problems and noted that Greece had been closer than any other country at the most difficult times of the crisis.

The Albanian delegation, which included Health Minister Leonard Salis and the Undersecretaries of Education and Labour, was received earlier by President Kostis Stephanopoulos and the President of the Greek Parliament, Apostolos Kaklamanis.

In his talks with the eight-member delegation, Kaklamanis underlined that respect for minorities and individual and human rights was the most effective way to consolidate democracy and strengthen relations between the Balkan countries.

Also discussed were ways in which the Greek Parliament could contribute to efforts for the establishment of a modern parliamentary democracy in Albania.

Melos thanked the House Speaker for the willingness with which the Greek Parliament was providing every possible assistance to the Albanian Parliament in its first steps and conveyed greetings from Kaklamanis' Albanian counterpart.

US military official to visit Athens

Gen. (Air) Joseph Ralston, vice-chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrives in Athens this evening for a one-day visit and talks with Greece's military leadership, Defence Ministry sources said.

Ralston arrives from Ankara, where he is holding talks with Turkish civilian and military officials, focussing on the crisis with Iraq over UN weapons inspections.

The sources said that Gen. Ralston will discuss "issues of mutual interest and defence cooperation" while in Greece and inspect military units.

Ralston's arrival here coincides with a five-day visit of the US Sixth Fleet flagship "USS La Salle" in Thessaloniki, its first to the northern Greek port city, running until Wednesday.

Minor quake rattles Athens

An earthquake measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale jolted Athens early today, but caused no damage or injuries.

According to the Athens Geodynamic Institute, the tremor was recorded at 5:49 a.m. with its epicentre in the Evia Gulf east of Marathon, 30 kilometres northeast of Athens.

Athens to host Royaumont initiative meeting

The European Union-led "Royaumont Inititive for Stability and Good Neighbourliness in SE Europe" will hold its forthcoming session in Athens March 31-April 1, it was announced today, while a related conference for journalists and media representatives of the initiative member countries will preceed on March 30-31, it was announced today.

The Royaumont Initiative, named after the Paris suburb where the first session was held in December 1965, groups together the 15 EU member states, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, FYROM, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey and Yugoslavia, as well as Russia and the United States, envisaging a broad "European family" based on democratic principles, peace, stability and cooperation.

The conference for journalists and media representatives, to be organised by the Union of Athens Journalists (ESHEA) under the Aegis of the the Greek Press Ministry, will examine steps that could contribute to free expression and movement as well as to elimination of hostile stereotypes in the region, according to Panayotis Roumeliotis, who was named Coordinator of the initiative last November by the EU for a three-year term.

Roumeliotis, a former minister and Europarliamentarian, told a press conference at the Zappion Hall today that the conference would also draft a "Code of Ethics and Conduct" that would be signed by the delegates.

The Initiative aims to mobilise all sides of the Community of Citizens of the region wishing, under the aegis of their respective governments, to contribute to cementing relations of good neighbourliness and establishing stabiliity in the region, overcoming social and ethnic prejudices, he said

It focuses on improving relations among the countries of the region and the signing of good neighbourhood pacts, consoloidating free expression and movement in the region, and on regional cooperation and deepening of the society of the citizens.

The targets would be achieved through regional cooperation programmes and exchanges of views among the various social groups (doctors, journalists, lawyers, local government members, members of religious organisations, youth organisations, athletes, for example), aiming at overcoming stereotypes and ethnic prejudices in the region, and through mobilising the resources of the EU, the member governments and the private foundations active in the region.

At the initial stage, the group will take advantage of opportunities provided under the EU's PHARE programme, but, Roumeliotis said, he would seek a specific fund earmarked for the Initiative's activities in the EU budget.

Criminal charges in store over Dystos sinking

Piraeus Public Prosecutor Aristides Frangiadakis is expected to initiate criminal proceedings tomorrow over the sinking of the Greek-flag dry bulk carrier "Dystos" in which 17 Greek sailors and three relatives were drowned.

Frangiadakis told reporters today that he had received a summary of the expert report on the cause of the tragedy, containing the unanimous replies of the four experts to 15 questions put to them two weeks ago.

According to Frangiadakis, the replies focus mainly on the standard of maintenance and the class of the "Dystos", while referring also to the captain of the ill-fated vessel, Yiannis Tsitsirikis.

The main burden of responsibility however appears to have been attributed to the Hellenic Shipping Registry and the owner of the vessel, "Herakles", a subsidiary of the AGET cement company.

Frangiadakis said that the experts' final report, which is expected to shed light on the cause of the sinking, was being typed up and would be given to him in the next few days.

The "Dystos" sank in rough seas off the island of Evia on December 28, 1996 while sailing from Volos to Piraeus with a cargo of 5,300 tons of cement.

Five skiers rescued from snowbound mountains

Rescue teams today found five skiers missing in bad weather since yesterday on Mt. Falakro near Drama, northern Greece, police said.

The search, hampered by heavy snowfall and low visibility, was joined by members of the police emergency rescue units (EMAK) and local inhabitants.


Clouds and rainy weather throughout Greece today with snow in the mountainous regions in the northwest. Weather improvement is expected later in the day. Southwesterly winds light to moderate. Athens will be cloudy with rain expected later in the day and temperatures from 9-14C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-7C.


Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 286.946 Pound sterling 469.613 Cyprus pd 534.390 French franc 46.926 Swiss franc 194.888 German mark 157.252 Italian lira (100) 15.945 Yen (100) 225.968 Canadian dlr. 196.019 Australian dlr. 192.746 Irish Punt 394.201 Belgian franc 7.621 Finnish mark 51.895 Dutch guilder 139.525 Danish kr. 41.269 Swedish kr. 35.504 Norwegian kr. 37.894 Austrian sch. 22.350 Spanish peseta 1.854 Port. Escudo 1.538


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