Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-12-05
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 05/12/1998 (ANA)
- Fuel flows again as customs officers are forced back to work
- Gov't last ditch attempt to avert Prinos oilfield closure
- Venizelos announces Cultural Olympics committee members
- Bridge collapses due to flooding near Larissa
- Gale force winds keep ships at bay
- Judicial enquiry into abortive sale of Duty-Free Shops
- Domestic interest rated may drop in European trend
- Simitis mets with German FM Fischer in Frankfurt
- Athens conference considers Europe's future, EU enlargement
- Pangalos concludes visit to Norway
- Kranidiotis: Decisions on S-300s still valid
- UN event in Athens for Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Albanian FM addresses Athens conference on NATO presence in region
- New Athens buses to be delivered
- Greek equities rally on rate cut hopes
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Fuel flows again as customs officers are forced back to work
Fuel became available again in petrol stations around the country and
border checks resumed, as customs officers returned to work after a five
day strike which caused severe fuel shortages and long queues at border
crossings. The customs officers were forced back to work after the
government on Friday enacted special labour law provisions banning
industrial action by state employees during national emergencies. The
strike was against a plan to merge their financially robust pension fund
with other, weaker funds. The enactement is effectively an order to
striking public servants to return to work of face dismissal.
Gov't last ditch attempt to avert Prinos oilfield closure
An eleventh hour effort to save the Prinos oilfield from closure by
offering early retirement subsidies for workers of North Aegean Petroleum
Corp. (NAPC.), was made by the government on Saturday. Citing financial
difficulties, NAPC threatens to shut down production, at oil rigs off the
northern island of Thassos and near the town of Kavala, if workers persist
in rejecting the plan to lower operating costs by 30 percent. NAPC's latest
deadline for closure is Monday after attempts by the labour ministry to
mediate between management and workers.
Venizelos announces Cultural Olympics committee members
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Saturday that an international
committee for the Cultural Olympics to be held in Greece in 2000-2004, will
include Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, Jules Dassin and Mikis
Theodorakis. Other members of the International Cultural Olympics Committee,
which is due to include Nobel prizewinners, would be announced later,
Venizelos told a meeting of the Council of Greeks Abroad held in Thessaloniki.
Bridge collapses due to flooding near Larissa
Another bridge collapsed under its own weight due to severe weather
conditions in the early hours of Saturday, near Larissa. The bridge, part
of a local road connecting Larissa with Trikala and Kozani, was built fifty
years ago and was recently declared unsafe due to damage caused by
flooding. Local authorities said the collapse is not expected to cause
traffic problems. Torrential rains in the recent weeks have caused
widespread floods and damage. Another old bridge on the Athens-Thessaloniki
national highway collapsed last week, resulting in traffic chaos on
country's main road link.
Gale force winds keep ships at bay
Passenger ferry services throughout Greece have been disrupted due to
strong winds, reaching 10 Beuafort. The National Meteorological Service
(EMY) has issued a strong winds warning, valid until early Sunday morning
for central and eastern Aegean and the Black Sea. Ferry services in the
east are also on hold, with the exemption of the Rio-Antirio link, which
was still operated on Saturday afternoon.
Judicial enquiry into abortive sale of Duty-Free Shops
An Athens prosecutor ordered a preliminary enquiry yesterday following
press reports and a relevant question tabled in Parliament on the abortive
sale of the state-run Duty-Free Shops (KAE) to the French-Greek joint
venture Saresco-Papaellinas-Sarantis. The Parliament question was tabled by
Coalition of the Left and Progress party leader Nikos Constantopoulos, who
also spoke of a "scandal" and accused the government of violating the terms
for the KAE's international tender, including "stock exchange machinations"
to the detriment of the state, small investors and KAE.
Domestic interest rated may drop in European trend
A decline in November's inflation to 4.2 percent combined with a move to
cut interest rates by countries in the European Union's euro-zone are
expected to help bring down domestic rates, analysts said yesterday.
Traders are watching the central bank's weekly intervention in the money
market on Wednesday, hoping for a signal that rates will decline. They
expect the Bank of Greece to lower its intervention rate to 12.50 percent
from 12.75 percent, without ruling out a deeper cut totalling 75 basis
points. Further fuelling hopes is data that underlying inflation, the rate
on which the Bank of Greece bases its calculations, slipped in November by
0.2 percent to 5.3 percent.
Simitis mets with German FM Fischer in Frankfurt
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer predicted that the meeting between
Prime Minister Costas Simitis and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in
Bonn on Monday will "go very well." He was speaking to Greek reporters
after holding private talks with the Greek PM yesterday. Mr. Fischer
confirmed that he has accepted an invitation by his Greek counterpart
Theodoros Pangalos to visit Greece and that he will do so apart from the
"round of capitals" for the German European Union Presidency due to start
from Athens on Dec. 14 - in January 1999.
Athens conference considers Europe's future, EU enlargement
Conference on the "Political Faces of Europe in Light of Enlargement" was
held at the Zappeion Hall on Friday with the participation of politicians
and academics from Greece and Britain. The conference was held in the
framework of the British embassy's events on "Britain and Greece" and got
underway with an address by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis.
"The European Union is Europe's reply to globalisation and the role of the
European left in this process is a leading one. Greece has only one option:
To fully participate in the unification process and, of course, in
Economic and Monetary Union," Mr. K ranidiotis said.
Pangalos concludes visit to Norway
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos concluded a two-day visit here
yesterday where he held talks with his Norwegian counterpart Knut Volembek
on issues of mutual concern such as political issues, the merchant marine,
tourism and the fishing sector. Mr. Pangalos presented Athens' positions on
the question of Cyprus and the illegal occupation of part of the island. He
also referred to relations between Greece and Turkey. On his part, the
Norwegian FM referred to the issue of the Schengen Treaty, which is of
particular interest to Norway.
Kranidiotis: Decisions on S-300s still valid
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis reaffirmed yesterday that
decisions regarding installation of the Russian-made S-300 missile system
on Cyprus were still valid. Speaking on state-run Cyprus radio (RIK), Mr.
Kranidiotis added that the decisions could not be reconsidered unless there
was progress on the Cyprus problem and on the diplomatic front towards a
reduction of tension and armaments on the island republic, which would in
turn lead to demilitarisation.
UN event in Athens for Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The UN Information Centre in Athens organised an exhibition entitled "All
Human Rights for All" at the Zappeion Hall on the occasion of the 50th
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The winners of a
relevant pamphlets contest on the subject were handed awards during an
event attended by George Paschalidis, Deputy Minister to the PM.
Albanian FM addresses Athens conference on NATO presence in region
Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo said yesterday that the threat of
NATO intervention in the region was an "integral part of the mechanism for
resolving the crisis". He was addressing an Athens conference on the 50
years since the foundation of the alliance.
Mr. Milo, who was commenting on developments in the troubled Yugoslav
province of Kosovo, added that this was the case because Belgrade had no
credibility as far as its promises to honour agreements was concerned. NATO
withdrew the threat of punitive air strikes a month ago, after Yugoslavia
agreed to scale down anti-rebel operations.
New Athens buses to be delivered
Hellenic Vehicles Industry (ELBO) will deliver on Sunday the first 25 hi-
tech buses ordered by Athens city transport in a deal for the construction
of 630 new buses over three years. Built at ELBO's plant in Thessaloniki,
the articulated buses and mini-buses ready for delivery are air-conditioned,
provide accomodation for people with disabilities and feature digital
information display units for passengers.
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.
Western, central and northern Greece and the island of the estern Aegean
can expect cloud and local showers while the rest of the country will be
overcast. Moderate southern, southweaterly winds will be moderate in the
west, but very strong in parts of the Aegean before subsiding, later in the
day. Athens will be overcast with strong southwesterly winds early in the
day and the temperature reaching 18 after an overnight low of 13 degrees
centigrade. Similar conditions in Thessaloniki, with temperature between 9
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