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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-02-06

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, 06/02/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • No Greek involvement in Iraq without UN go-ahead
  • January inflation down to 4.4 percent
  • Black Sea bank board meets for first time
  • Greece hopes to send teachers to Albania
  • Maroussi to host EU cities network conference
  • Telethon tonight to raise money for Kalash tribe
  • Two arrested with weapons haul
  • Women make up bulk of long-term unemployed
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

No Greek involvement in Iraq without UN go-ahead

Greece will not become involved in any military operations against Iraq without a prior decision by the UN Security Council, Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis said in parliament today.

However, he said that although Greece would be "committed to obey" any such UN decision, it would not be necessary for Greece to contribute its own forces to any military operation.

Apostolakis was speaking in response to a question from Communist Party of Greece deputy Haralambos Angourakis regarding the possible use of the Souda and Aktio military bases by US air force planes in a new Gulf war.

With regard to a recent meeting in Athens between US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Mark Grossman and the leadership of the foreign and defence ministries, the undersecretary commented that the US had made "no request for Greek assistance or facilities in the event that the US decided to intervene in Iraq". Therefore, he added, Greece has undertaken no commitment to the American government.

Apostolakis also said Grossman had been informed of Greece's opposition to the trade sanctions against Iraq and their devastating repercussions on the children of Iraq due to the lack of medicines and food.

January inflation down to 4.4 percent

Inflation's downward course continued in January, dropping to 4.4 per cent from 4.7 per cent in December 1997, according to figures released today by the National Statistics Service (NSS).

The encouraging figure was due to a 0.8 per cent drop in the Consumer Price Index in January, compared to a 0.5 per cent reduction in the same month the previous year.

According to the NSS, the drop in the CPI was chiefly the result of an 8.8 per cent reduction in clothing and footwear because of winter sales and a 2.9 per cent drop in durable consumer goods and services, again due to the seasonal sales.

In contrast, telephone rates increased by 1.2 per cent in January while tobacco prices rose by 2.3 per cent.

Black Sea bank board meets for first time

The first president of the Black Sea Commerce and Development Bank, Ersoy Volkan of Turkey, said today that the general objectives of the newly established bank were to contribute towards economic stability in the region, attract investments, finance infrastructure works and establish cooperation with international financial organisations.

Ersoy, who will hold the Thessaloniki-based bank's first four-year presidency, said efforts would be made for the bank to function as a financial organisation and for its operation not to be influenced by political decisions and relations between the states participating in the venture.

The governors of the bank, set up by the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation, met for the first time in Thessaloniki last night.

The governors are from Greece, Russia, Turkey (each country participating with 16.5 per cent), Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria (13.5 per cent each) and Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Albania (each contributing 2 per cent of share capital).

They are scheduled to meet again in Thessaloniki on March 11 to decide on the composition of the board of directors and appoint deputy governors.

The official inauguration of the bank is scheduled for June, while Volkan said he believed it would be fully operational some time next year.

Greece hopes to send teachers to Albania

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis said today that the government was trying, through a cultural agreement with Albania, to send Greek teachers to schools of the ethnic Greek minority in the neighbouring country.

Replying to a question in Parliament, Kranidiotis said that thanks to the efforts of the Greek government, classes of Greek-speaking schools had for the first time been operating since September 1996 also outside the predominantly ethnic Greek areas.

In particular, he cited the operation of such schools in Gjirokaster, Delvine and Sarande.

Kranidiotis added that the Albanian government had accepted the establishment of a model Greek school in Tirana by the Friends of Education Society.

Maroussi to host EU cities network conference

The Municipality of Amaroussion (Maroussi) is organising the annual meeting of the European citieis participating in the EU's Telecities, Polis and Infocities network on March 4-5 at the Divani Caravel hotel.

The conference, titled "Contemporary City and New Technologies", is considered one of the most important venues of European local administrations.

The networks comrpise European cities advancing the use of modern information and telecommunications technologies for the modernisation, develpment and improvement of daily life in the cities.

Maroussi, a participant in all three networks, has been applying and advancing new technologies aiming at improving the every-day life of its residents, a Municipality statement said.

The first day of the conference will focus on local development through trans-border cooperation with emphasis on the Mediterranean countries, electronic procurements, spacial planning, and new services in local administration.

Telethon tonight to raise money for Kalash tribe

The Thessaloniki-based ET-3 state television channel is organising a TV marathon to raise money for the perpetuation of the Kalash tribe, considered to be descendants of Alexander the Great, which lives in the valleys of the Indian Caucasus.

The marathon, which begins at 9:30 tonight to run until dawn, is organised by ET-3 in collaboration with the Ministry of education and the "Friends of the Kalash" organisation.

The Kalash tribe lives in northern Pakistan at an altitude of 2,300 metres under adverse conditions. The Kalash are believed to be descended from the soldiers of Alexander the Great from the 4th century B.C. during the Indian Campaigns.

The Kalamaria municipality is currently hosting twelve children from the Kalat tribe aged 9-17, while it intends to adopt most of the total 30 tribal settlements and build a classical Greek-architecture building there to serve as a cultural centre, which will be named Thessaloniki, after Alexander's sister.

Two arrested with weapons haul

Two brothers from the island of Crete have been arrested and a large number of Kalashnikov rifles, bayonettes and armour-piercing shells smuggled into Greece from Albania confiscated, Thessaloniki police said today.

The brothers, who were arrested at dawn today in Kozani near the Greek- Albanian border, told police that they bought the weapons from Albanians at the border for one million dr. and intended to sell them in Greece.

The weapons, including 43 kalashnikov rifles, 19 automatic Kalashnikovs, 17 bayonettes, 19 crates of cartridges, and 44 armour-piercing shells, were found in the boots of their rented cars.

Women make up bulk of long-term unemployed

More than 60 percent of Greece's long-term unemployed are women, according to a recent report by the country's General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE).

The findings of the report were announced at GSEE's third national conference, titled "Women and Employment", which began yesterday in Athens.

Speakers said that women made up 80 percent of the workforce in trades involving piecework, such as the fashion industry.

Women still did not make more than 80 percent of a man's wage for the same work despite legislation enforcing equal pay for equal work being on the books for the past 20 years.

Greece's ageing population and the subsequent burden this places on the state social security system meant that more and more women were being forced out of the workforce to care for ailing relatives before having collected the required number of social security stamps for a full pension.

However, reforms being considered to the social security system would be of little to no benefit, since they centred on proposals to increase the retirement age.

WEATHER

Clouds and scattered showers in most parts of Greece today with light snowfall in the mountainous regions. The weather will improve in the west and north from the afternoon. Winds variable, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures between 7-13C. Snow in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3-5C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 282.333 Pound sterling 467.311 Cyprus pd 534.033 French franc 46.880 Swiss franc 195.017 German mark 157.078 Italian lira (100) 15.917 Yen (100) 229.450 Canadian dlr. 195.642 Australian dlr. 192.349 Irish Punt 395.808 Belgian franc 7.612 Finnish mark 51.870 Dutch guilder 139.381 Danish kr. 41.237 Swedish kr. 35.154 Norwegian kr. 37.787 Austrian sch. 22.332 Spanish peseta 1.854 Port. Escudo 1.536

(M.P.)


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