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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-12-09

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, 09/12/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Violence during student protest march
  • Teachers also strike
  • Turkey still has a chance with EU
  • Ocalan provides Ankara with a chance
  • Bank of Greece announces rate cut
  • Thessaloniki airport reopens
  • Taxi drivers to strike Thursday
  • Air traffic controllers' walkout
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Violence during student protest march

Riot police on Wednesday used tear gas to disperse groups of youths who took advantage of a protest march by high-school students and burned three cars in the centre of Athens. The violence broke out when the students when prohibited from reaching the education ministry building in central Athens after a march through the capital to protest the government's education sector reforms. More than 9,000 high-school students marched through Athens to protest an education reform law which they say attempts to turn schools into "examination sweat-shops" and students into "docile robots" while abolishing every concept of free, public education.

Teachers also strike

High-school teachers today held a 24-hour strike while primary school teachers staged a two-hour walkout also in protest at the government's reforms. About 1,000 high-school students held a rally and protest march in Piraeus on Wednesday. Shouting slogans against Education Minister Gerassimos Arsenis, the students marched to the merchant marine ministry where they demanded to meet with minister Stavros Soumakis. The students dispersed peacefully after representatives aired student grievances to Soumakis.

Turkey still has a chance with EU

Turkey can hope to strengthen its ties with the European Union and maintain its European vocation provided it fulfils the prerequisites set out at the Luxembourg and Cardiff summits, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Wednesday. At both Luxembourg and Cardiff, the EU made it clear to Turkey that an improvement in its human rights record and a less aggressive stance towards Greece were prerequisites for closer relations with the Community. Speaking at a news conference on the outcome of Monday's General Affairs Council in Luxembourg, Papandreou said also that the EU did not have a clear-cut policy on Turkey and that in order for there to be such a policy, the 15 member-states would all have to agree on the fundamental positions governing relations between the EU and Ankara.

Ocalan provides Ankara with a chance

Papandreou said that the Ocalan issue provided Turkey with an opportunity to show its commitment to European values. "If Turkey cooperates on the issue of Ocalan it will show a different 'cultural' approach," Papandreou told the news conference. He said the 15 nation bloc had decided to extend wholehearted support to Italy and to bring the Ocalan issue to the Council of Europe. "My personal opinion is that we should not, as the European Union, miss this opportunity, because Greece also wants to see Turkey's European vocation," Papandreou said. "The Kurdish issue is an international one. It is not our job to decide who is or is not a terrorist. In any case, Ocalan has renounced terrorist activities," he said.

Bank of Greece announces rate cut

The Bank of Greece on Wednesday announced a much-awaited reduction in its basic intervention rate, which it slashed by 0.50 percentage points. State- controlled National Bank of Greece, the country's largest commercial bank, was the first to jump into the rates race, announcing reductions in lending rates between 0.50-3.55 percentage points and a 0.25 percentage point reduction in deposit interest rates, as well as a series of new products in home loans and financing for developmental schemes in both drachma and Euro.

Thessaloniki airport reopens

Flights into and from Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport resumed at midday on Wednesday, after all morning flights were cancelled due to a snow storm in the northern Greek city. Officials opened the runways after frost and ice was removed. In the city itself, dozens of minor car accidents were reported due to slippage on icy roads. Police said snow chains were being used on most vehicles travelling outside the city limits. The temperature fell as low as -8C in Kozani, western Macedonia. In Florina, eastern Macedonia, the mercury dipped to -5.

Taxi drivers to strike Thursday

Taxi drivers have called a 24-hour strike beginning at 5 a.m. on Thursday to press demands for tax relief from the government. The strike will affect all taxis in all major urban centres and rural towns. Taxi drivers claim that finance ministry changes to the way they are taxed are not those agreed in earlier talks. The changes are also effective retroactively. The drivers are also pressing demands for an increase in the flag-fall and measures to ensure conditions of fair competition. The transport ministry is responsible for these issues.

Air traffic controllers' walkout

Fifteen domestic Olympic Aviation flights were cancelled on Wednesday as air traffic controllers held a 24-hour strike to protest government plans to merge their pension fund with others. The walkout also caused delays and cancellations to international flights, with skeleton staff allowing only one flight per destination to be carried out.

WEATHER

Clouds with rain or sleet are forecast early on Wednesday throughout the country, with storms in the Aegean and snow in central and northern Greece, with slight improvement expected later in the day. Winds will be variable, strong to very strong. Athens will be overcast with rainfall or sleet with slight improvement later in the day with temperatures ranging from 3C to 8C. Thessaloniki will also be cloudy with possible snowfall, and temperatures ranging from -1C to 4C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 278.732 British pound 460.387 Japanese yen (100) 233.527 French franc 49.719 German mark 166.706 Italian lira (100) 16.839 Irish Punt 414.259 Belgian franc 8.084 Finnish mark 54.897 Dutch guilder 147.947 Danish kr. 43.819 Austrian sch. 23.699 Spanish peseta 1.940 Swedish kr. 34.196 Norwegian kr. 36.853 Swiss franc 203.975 Port. Escudo 1.626 Aus. dollar 172.410 Can. dollar 181.536

(M.P.)


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