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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-02-05

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, 05/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Farmers block access to Cretan airport
  • BSEC bank board to be decided
  • Thessaloniki hosts transport conference
  • Bomb attack on rightist group
  • New Democracy party crisis deepens
  • Kranidiotis meets with British leadership
  • Simitis backs Pangalos on Hague solution for Ankara
  • Turkish diplomat thanks merchant marine for rescue efforts
  • School programme targets rising incidence of gum disease
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Farmers block access to Cretan airport

Farmers protesting the government's agricultural policy today blockaded the airport at Heraklion, Crete, forcing the airport authorities to cancel all flights until 6 am tomorrow morning.

Participating in the protest were farmers from the prefectures of Heraklion, Rethymno and Lasithi.

A few hours before blocking the roads to the airport, farmers waving black flags gathered outside the offices of the Federation of Agricultural Associations of Heraklion Prefecture.

A march followed through the centre of Heraklion to the airport, causing serious traffic problems.

The farmers are using their cars, rather than tractors, to block access to the airport.

BSEC bank board to be decided

The governors of the Black Sea Commerce and Development Bank of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation will meet for the first time in Thessaloniki this evening to decide on the composition of the board of directors and the duties of its members.

The governors from Greece, Russia, Turkey (each country participating with 16.5 per cent), Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria (13.5 per cent each) and Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Albania (each contributing 2 per cent of share capital) are expected to work out an "agreement of principles" concerning the administrative structure of the bank at tonight's meeting.

It has already been decided that the president of the Thessaloniki-based bank for the first four-year term will be Ersoy Volkan from Turkey.

The official inauguration of the bank is scheduled for June.

National Bank of Greece deputy governor Nikos Karamouzis, who is representing Greece on the Board of Governors, said one of the principal objects of the bank would be to finance commerce and small- and medium-size infrastructure works.

Thessaloniki hosts transport conference

HELEXPO, the organiser of the Thessaloniki International Fair, will for the second consecutive year this year be organising the Conference of Multimodal Transport and Transit Trade in Southeast Europe from June 4- 6.

The conference, being organised in cooperation with the Department of Communications Technology of Thessaloniki University, will focus on legal and administrative issues pertaining to difficulties encountered in crossing borders, methods and practices associated with multimodal transport in the light of new technology and the use of logistics, multimodal transport corridors and infrastructure (terminals and junctions), networks, services and international cooperation.

Participating in the conference in the northern Greek port city will be senior officials and representatives of European Union directorates, the ministries of transport and communications, of environment, town planning and public works, of finance, of merchant marine, universities, cultural foundations of Austria, Bulgaria, Germany and other countries and transport organisations.

Bomb attack on rightist group

A petrol bomb exploded at the Pireaus headquarters of the ultra-right wing organisation "Golden Dawn" today, setting fire to the seventh-floor office.

The fire was extinguished almost immediately.

New Democracy party crisis deepens

A crisis within the ranks of the main opposition New Democracy party, prompted by an ND disciplinary council decision to expel three senior deputies and suspend another three, deepened yesterday after the first three were removed from the party's Parliamentary group while the others were suspended for a year.

ND leader Costas Karamanlis finalised the expulsions and the suspensions from ND's Parliamentary group in a letter to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

The six deputies had abstained from a parliamentary vote on a controversial amendment regarding labour relations in public sector enterprises and utilities (DEKOs), disregarding the party line of voting against the amendment.

"With their stance, they effectively placed themselves outside the party," Mr. Karamanlis said after a roll-call vote early Tuesday night.

ND's disciplinary council was urgently convened on Tuesday by Mr. Karamanlis, and early yesterday decided on the expulsion of George Souflias, Stephanos Manos and Vassilis Kontoyiannopoulos from the party, and a one- year suspension for Petros Tatoulis, Nikos Kakkalos and Anastasis Papaligouras. It took no disciplinary action against a seventh deputy, George Panayotopoulos, who did not show up for the parliamentary session due to illness.

Mr. Souflias described the decision as not in tune with the party's charter, as politically unacceptable and morally impermissible, winding up a series of pre-determined decisions by a small group which arbitrarily replaced established organs and proced ures.

"New Democracy supporters are watching with suprise this group which, with ample imprudence, is creating another party as it suits them," he said.

Mr. Manos said the decision was in contradiction of the party charter, unjustifiable and above all unfair.

"Those who expelled us knocked down the party's barrier of unity...The damage will be repaired one way or another. It's a long way away and much effort will be required," he said.

Mr. Kontoyiannopoulos did not rule out the establishment of a new party and his participation, when questioned.

Commenting on the expulsions and suspensions, ND honorary president and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis said "a small group of would- be guardians prepared and executed persecutions in a manner alien to our democratic party. The great progre ssive party of the 47 per cent should not and will not be shrunken to the limits of that small group. I want to believe that the new party leader, whom no one has undermined nor disputed, will comprehend this reality".

Former prime minister George Rallis also expressed disapproval, regretting the fact, as he said, that the leadership of the party had led it to a rift.

Commenting on the developments in ND, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas ruled out the possibility of the Greek political scene becoming like that of Italy, with major political parties splintering into smaller ones.

The spokesman said ND was the victim of its "anachronistic and old-style party past" and attributed what he described as the "fluidity" within its ranks to the vagueness of its policy and the weakness of its programme.

Kranidiotis meets with British leadership

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis paid a one-day visit to London yesterday at the invitation of Sir David Hannay, the special representative of the European Union's presidency on the Cyprus issue and the personal envoy of British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Euro-Turkish relations.

Mr. Kranidiotis also met Undersecretary of State for European Affairs Doug Henderson and the British Foreign Ministry's political director Mr. Greenstock.

His talks focused on Cyprus' accession course to the EU, the formula for the Turkish Cypriots' participation in the delegation to conduct accession negotiations and developments in relations between the EU and Turkey, also in light of Sir Hannay's recent meeting in Ankara with Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.

According to reports, the British officials expressed their interest to Mr. Kranidiotis on the proposal the government of Cyprus will submit for the Turkish Cypriots' participation in the group to conduct accession negotiations. However, they do not raise this issue as a precondition for their start.

The British officials conveyed the assessment to Mr. Kranidiotis that Turkey will not accept the invitation to participate in the European Conference and briefed him on the British presidency's intention to convene an EU-Turkey association council in May.

Simitis backs Pangalos on Hague solution for Ankara

Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night backed Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos' recent statements calling on Ankara to take recourse to the International Court of Justice at The Hague on any claims it had vis-a-vis Greece.

Speaking in Parliament, the premier said that in 1993, when Greece accepted the general jurisdiction of the International Court - with reservations on defence and security issues - it had also approved of the Court's rules.

Mr. Pangalos had made the statements to the Turkish daily "Milliyet".

Mr. Simitis further said the government had been observing this new reality since then.

He added that Greece was calling on Turkey to embrace the same principles of international practice, and to work on its foreign relations in accordance with international law.

According to the prime minister, acceptance by Greece of the jurisdiction of the International Court was an exceptionally important fact, which further "buffered our proposal for a step-by-step rapprochement.

"There is no change in our policy," he said.

Turkish diplomat thanks merchant marine for rescue efforts

Turkey's Consul General in Greece, Yasar Togo, has expressed "heartfelt thanks" to the Search and Rescue Centre of the Merchant Marine Ministry for the gigantic operation launched to save the crew of a Turkish-flagged freighter which sank off Evia in December.

In a letter to the centre, Mr. Togo also expressed gratitude for the efforts made to find a Turkish seaman who was missing after the ship went down on December 10.

Eleven crew members of the 996-ton "S. Ugurlu", sailing from Thessaloniki to Italy with a cargo of magnesium ore, were rescued in the operation.

Mr. Togo noted that "this exemplary effort" of the Search and Rescue Centre and the coastguard officers of Kymi, Evia "contributes further to the strengthening of friendly relations between Greece and Turkey".

School programme targets rising incidence of gum disease

Between 60 and 65 per cent of Greek children suffer from tooth decay - one of the highest rates in Europe, according to Athens University's Laboratory of Preventive Dentistry.

Despite the fact that the incidence of tooth decay has been on the decline in Greece in recent years, particularly in urban centres, gum disease continues to afflict six out of ten Greek children.

Before 1982, according to data published by the laboratory, 12-year-old children had at least four teeth affected by tooth decay, while in the period 1982-1992, the average number of bad teeth had fallen to two.

According to the laboratory, one of the main reasons for the poor level of dental hygiene has been the improvement in the standard of living which unfortunately resulted in the per capita annual consumption of sugar rising from 13 kilos in 1960 to over 60 kilos in the present decade.

The figures were made known at a press conference yesterday given by representatives of the Dental Association of Attica which, in cooperation with Athens University, has organised a "Preventive Dentistry Week" for February 9-13, during which dentists will tour primary schools in Attica to inform children about the importance of dental care.

WEATHER

Heavy clouds and rain in most parts of Greece today with snowfall in the mountainous regions. Winds variable, moderate to gale force. Athens will be overcast and rainy with temperatures between 10-16C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-7C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.101 Pound sterling 469.652 Cyprus pd 535.105 French franc 46.856 Swiss franc 195.181 German mark 157.029 Italian lira (100) 15.904 Yen (100) 228.200 Canadian dlr. 197.309 Australian dlr. 192.051 Irish Punt 395.808 Belgian franc 7.610 Finnish mark 51.844 Dutch guilder 139.287 Danish kr. 41.212 Swedish kr. 35.333 Norwegian kr. 37.857 Austrian sch. 22.320 Spanish peseta 1.853 Port. Escudo 1.535

(M.P.)


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