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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-12-04

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, 04/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov't orders striking customs employees back to work
  • Customs strike declared illegal again
  • Stranded motorists at mercy of gangs
  • November inflation falls to 4.2%
  • Clinton: personal involvement in Cyprus
  • Retired police chief shot down
  • Two die, 15 injured in bus crash
  • Defence minister to visit India
  • Trains back on track
  • Drama police at a loss over theft of 300 kilo safe
  • Greek equities rally on rate cut hopes
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Gov't orders striking customs employees back to work

The government on Friday decided to make use of legislation to force customs employees back to work after a week-long strike caused widespread fuel shortages and major problems for Greece's import-export trade. The decision was announced by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou who said that the government had exhausted all margin for further dialogue. Customs officers began striking on Monday to protest plans to merge their financially robust pension fund with other, weaker funds. Today's provisions mean that striking civil servants are ordered back to work and face dismissal if they refuse. The decision takes effect immediately.

Customs strike declared illegal again

An Athens court earlier today declared the customs employees' 24-hour rolling strikes illegal and abusive, stressing inter alia that it harmed the national economy and created urgent needs among the citizens. An Athens court earlier this week declared the five-day strike initially declared by the union of customs employees as illegal, and so customs workers ditched the week-long strike and reverted to one-day rolling strikes to circumvent the court decision.

Stranded motorists at mercy of gangs

Hundreds of Greek truck drivers stranded in kilometres-long queues on the Bulgarian side of the border with Greece due to the ongoing strike by Greek customs employees have complained that armed gangs were attacking them and looting their trucks at night. About 400 Greek and foreign trucks have been stranded in Bulgaria in the vicinity of the Promachonas border post waiting to cross into Greece since Monday, when the customs employees launched their strike, now in its fifth day, officials from the Greek embassy in Sofia said.

November inflation falls to 4.2%

Year-on year inflation fell to 4.2 per cent in November from 4.7 per cent the previous month, the National Statistics Service (ESY) announced on Friday. ESY forecast that consumer price inflation would fall to 4.0 percent at the end of December. It said that the consumer price index (CPI) slipped 0.1 percent in November against a 0.4 percent rise in the same month of last year. Contributing to November's decline were a reduction in tax on heating oil, which brought the CPI down 0.15 percentage points, and a tax cut on cars, which brought a 0.13 point drop.

Clinton: personal involvement in Cyprus

US President Bill Clinton informed Greek-American leaders Friday ofhis intent to become personally involved in ongoing efforts to solve the 25- year-old Cyprus problem and reduce tension in the Aegean, an ANA dispatch from Washington said. The report, quoting Greek-American leaders who attended the meeting, said that Clinton appeared to be "very well informed" on the situation in all areas of Greek-turkish relations, and the Greek- American leaders believed that the US President's interest was "genuine".

Retired police chief shot down

The former head of the Thessaloniki security police was killed during an armed robbery in the northern Greek city on Friday morning. Dimitris Karagounis, 58, retired from the police force with the rank of major general in 1990 and subsequently set up a private security firm. He was shot when he intervened as two people tried to rob two of his firm's guards as they were waiting for him outside his home. The guards had in their possession some four million drachmas. Karagounis died en route to the Hippocration Hospital. Police have launched a manhunt for the two men.

Two die, 15 injured in bus crash

Two inter-city coaches and a car were involved in a crash on the coast road between Itea and Nafpaktos near Panormos in central Greece on Friday in which at least two people are believed to have died and over 15 injured. According to eye-witnesses, the accident was caused when the driver of the car entered the lane of oncoming traffic and collided with one of the coaches. It was unclear how the second coach became involved in the crash, which took place in torrential rain.

Defence minister to visit India

Greece and India are expected to sign a protocol of cooperation in the defence sector during National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos's visit to New Delhi, beginning on Saturday. Tsohatzopoulos's four-day visit is on the invitaiton of his Indian counterpart, George Fernandes. He is expected to meet with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as well as Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi. Also on Tsohatzopoulos's agenda is a talk to the Institute of Defence Studies on the European security structure ahead of the 21st century. The minister flies from India to Brussels on December 9 to participate in a European Socialist Party meeting.

Trains back on track

Train services throughout the country were running normally after the Panhellenic Federation of Railway Employees (POS) called off a scheduled 24- hour strike, the Greek Railways Organisation (OSE) said on Friday. POS held work stoppages on Monday and Tuesday and 24-hour rolling strikes on Wednesday and Thursday to protest reforms planned by the government in the transport sector.

Drama police at a loss over theft of 300 kilo safe

Thieves in Drama, clearly inspired by the outstanding performance of the Greek men's national weightlifting team at the world championships in Finland last month, "snatched" a 300-kg. safe they were unable to crack, dragged it down three flights of stairs and loaded it onto a van before escaping. The thieves struck early Wednesday morning at the offices of the Drama inter-city coach company on the third floor of a building in the centre of the northern Greek town. Unable to open the safe, which contained 2.5 million drachmas, the thieves apparently tied a rope round it and dragged it down 54 steps to the entrance of the building.

Greek equities rally on rate cut hopes

Equities rallied on the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday fuelled by hopes of domestic interest rate cuts following a slump in the previous session. Market players are discounting a signal from the central bank that domestic rates will finally fall in the wake of rate declines agreed in European euro-zone countries.Leading the market were shares in the heavily weighted banking sector, which were briskly traded in strong demand. The general index ended 2.30 percent higher at 2,469.07 points, recouping the bulk of losses from the previous session's 3.46 percent plunge. Trade was active with turnover at 68.7 billion drachmas.

WEATHER

Cloud and rain will prevail throughout Greece today. Winds strong to very strong, turning into gale force in the Ionian Sea and Aegean Sea. Weather cloudy with light rain and possibility of brief storms in Athens with temperatures from 10-16C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 8-11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.774 British pound 466.280 Japanese yen (100) 235.798 French franc 49.888 German mark 167.271 Italian lira (100) 16.895 Irish Punt 415.846 Belgian franc 8.110 Finnish mark 55.026 Dutch guilder 148.398 Danish kr. 43.995 Austrian sch. 23.780 Spanish peseta 1.966 Swedish kr. 34.660 Norwegian kr. 37.696 Swiss franc 204.987 Port. Escudo 1.632 Aus. dollar 174.751 Can. dollar 181.933 Cyprus pound 562.464

(M.P.)


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