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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-12-07

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, 07/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece set to make EMU - Papantoniou
  • Privatisation programme on track
  • Greece will fight for EU funds
  • Interest rate cuts expected in the week
  • Simitis, Schroeder agree to disagree
  • Government wants talks with farmers
  • Riot police called in to attempted escape
  • Greek MPs in Russia for BSECC meeting
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece set to make EMU - Papantoniou

National economy and finance minister Yannos Papantoniou on Monday expressed optimism that the Greek economy would meet all the targets it had set regarding European economic and monetary union (EMU), saying that the target of containing inflation at 4 percent by the end of the year and at 2 percent by the end of 1999 was now a "very realistic" one. He told the opening sesson of the annual conference of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce that this was the first time in post-war Grece that a Greek government was attaining its targets. This, he said, had boosting its international credibility and resulted in international financial organisations taking Greece's EMU entry for granted and recommending to their clients to purchase Greek state securities.

Privatisation programme on track

National economy and finance minister Yannos Papantoniou said the government's privatisation programme was proceeding normally, with the sole exceptions being those of Ionian Bank and Hellenic Duty Free Shops, both of which he said would be concluded in the first quarter of 1999. Papantoniou assured that the recent change at the helm of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation did not mean any change in policy, and the new managing director would carry on the same policy of international expansion and modernisation.

Greece will fight for EU funds

Greece, Papandontoniou said, and the other southern member states would wage a tough battle to avert reduction of the resources of the Third Community Support Framework (CSF) in relation to the Second CSF. "Our positions are steady, we are calm-headed, and we shall use all the available weapons if necessary," Papantoniou said, adding that Greece would not hesitate to use its right of veto to block EU enlargement. The matter was critical for Greece, he said, as the Greek economy would not be able to achieve true convergence after its EMU entry without those funds. On the Third CSF, he said the greatest possible participation of private capital would be sought in most of the major projects to be financed under it, and anticipated that 80 percent of the Second CSF projects will have been completed by end-1999.

Interest rate cuts expected in the week

Papantoniou said "it was understood" the Bank of Greece would announce a small cut in intervention rates within the week, and proceed with more cuts as of the second half of 1999. Papantoniou also said that a strategic investor in ailing national carrier Olympic Airways would be found by March 1999. The government's structural reforms aimed at the improvement of infrastructure, a more responsive labour market, a modernised capital market and reform of the public sector, he said.

Simitis, Schroeder agree to disagree

Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder agreed that there was a difference in opinion between the two governments over the issue of European Union financing for Agenda 2000, according to an ANA dispatch from Bonn. However, in statements to the media following Simitis's meeting with the chancellor, both said that they would deal with the problem "in a spirit of mutual understanding, with all eyes trained on the future and with the goal of succeeding in reforms to the EU". Greece and Germany are diametrically opposed on the issue of funding for the EU's Agenda 2000 programme of budget and spending policy reforms.

Government wants talks with farmers

The government's policy on the issue of agriculture is one of working out problems through dialogue, government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said on Monday, ahead of a planned protest by farmers on Tuesday. Thousands of Greek farmers, mainly from central and norther Greece are expected to attend tomorrow's rally in Larissa, central Greece, to underline their opposition to the government's agricultural policy and press demands. "(Agriculture Minister) Anomeritis has begun wide-ranging talks with all agencies in the agricultural community, both established and otherwise. The door is open," Athanassakis said. Large-scale protests by farmers last year - against new tax laws, in support of demands for cheaper fuel and higher prices for their products - caused unprecedented chaos in Greece, hampering road and rail transport between the north and south, preventing lorries from delivering vital supplies and on occasion forcing factories to shut down due to shortages of fuel and raw materials.

Riot police called in to attempted escape

Riot police were called in to quell an attempted escape by some 200 foreign inmates being held at the general police headquarters in the heart of the city, reports said. Guards at the headquarters, on main thoroughfare Alexandros Avenue, called in riot and special police after the 200 mostly Romanian inmates began banging on the doors. The 200 prisoners were being held in a space originally designed for no more than 80 inmates, on the seventh floor of the building. A number of escapes from the sixth and seventh floors of the building have been noted in recent months.

Greek MPs in Russia for BSECC meeting

A Greek parliamentary delegation left for Russia on Monday to take part in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Council's parliamentary assembly on economic ties. The session will be held in St. Petersburg from December 8- 10 and will focus on the legal, institutional and political aspects of the upgrading of the organisation. Issues on the agenda include transport and the creation of a legal framework for the avoidance of double taxation.

WEATHER

Western, central and northern Greece and the islands of the eastern Aegean can expect cloud and sporadic storms on Monday while the rest of the country will be mostly overcast. Moderate southerly, southwesterly winds turning strong in parts of the Aegean. Athens will be overcast with chance of rain at night and temperatures ranging from 11C to 14C. Thessaloniki will also be cloudy, with chance of rain or snow in the nearby mountains at night and temperatures between 6C and 10C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.407 British pound 465.486 Japanese yen (100) 235.154 French franc 49.767 German mark 166.859 Italian lira (100) 16.859 Irish Punt 414.656 Belgian franc 8.091 Finnish mark 54.895 Dutch guilder 148.071 Danish kr. 43.894 Austrian sch. 23.719 Spanish peseta 1.961 Swedish kr. 34.849 Norwegian kr. 37.654 Swiss franc 204.183 Port. Escudo 1.622 Aus. dollar 173.292 Can. dollar 181.496 Cyprus pound 561.968

(M.P.)


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