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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-04-30

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, 30/04/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece to buy F-16s, Mirage 2000-5
  • Ad campaign to underline Greece is safe for tourists
  • Anti-war protestors block Thessaloniki port
  • Kurds in Athens hold solidarity rally for Ocalan
  • Athens suspends airport tax on northern Greek airports
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece to buy F-16s, Mirage 2000-5

Greece on Friday announced the purchase of 50 F-16 Block 50 Plus combat aircraft, 15 Mirage 2000-5 and new weapons systems for its fleet of 10 Mirage 2000 as part of its multi-million dollar armaments programme for the Hellenic Air Force. Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced the decision following a meeting of the Government Council on Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA). The total cost of the F-16 aircraft will come to 600 billion drachmas. The 1.3 trillion drachma Hellenic Air Force programme involves the purchase of new combat aircraft and the replacement of losses. The main contenders for the lucrative fighter jet contract were the French Mirage-2000-5, the Eurofighter-2000, the US F-15 and F-16 Block 50 Plus and Russia's Soukhoi-27.

Ad campaign to underline Greece is safe for tourists

Athens said on Friday it would launch an international advertising campaign to underline that the country was among the safest in the world for tourists, in the wake of U.S. warnings to its citizens about travelling to Greece. "The campaign will promote Greece's safe image around the world. Greece is not only a factor of stability and peace in the region but is also an extremely safe destination for tourists," Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in Parliament. Venizelos, who is also responsible for tourism issues, said that a bomb attack on an Athens hotel earlier this week, which killed a Greek woman and injured another person, had directly targetted the Greek tourist industry. Venizelos said he regretted Washington's reaction and said the aim of the attack "was precisely to provoke such an announcement from the U.S."

Anti-war protestors block Thessaloniki port

Anti-war protestors in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki began a two- day blockade of the port on Friday to protest NATO using the port and airport to ferry troops and supplies to Skopje. "This city belongs to us," a banner hung on the port's main gate read. The blockade is expected to last until midnight on Saturday and is a symbolic demand for military strikes against Yugoslavia to end and for the Greek government to cease providing facilities to NATO. Greece, a member of NATO, has provided the use of Thessaloniki as a transit point for NATO rapid reaction forces in Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, but is taking no direct participation in the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia.

Kurds in Athens hold solidarity rally for Ocalan

Kurds in Greece rallied in Athens on Friday, to mark the beginning of treason trial in Turkey of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan. Among the protestors were 13 Kurds wearing blindfolds, with their mouths taped shut and chained together, a symbolic reference to the pictures of Ocalan broadcast by Turkey in late February, when he was captured. Representatives of the protestors called for the international community to show solidarity with the PKK leader, who faces a possible death sentence for his role in the Kurds' struggle against Turkey in the southeast.

Athens suspends airport tax on northern Greek airports

Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos announced plans by the government to offset possible harm to the country's exports and imports industry and tourism by lifting an airport duty and subsidising road transport. Responding to a question in Parliament on the repercussions of the Yugoslav war on the Greek economy and tourism, Venizelos said he had requested the transport and communications and national economy and finance ministries to suspend collection of the airport duty for the Visegrad countries of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He said those flying in to the airports in Corfu, Thessaloniki, Kavala and Alexandroupoli, regions which have been particularly hard-hit by the Yugoslav war, would be exempt from paying the airport duty.

WEATHER

Hot and humid weather will prevail throughout Greece today. Possibility of intermittent rain in the north in the afternoon. Winds southerly, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with few clouds and temperatures between 13- 29C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 11-26C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          305.000
Pound sterling       492.270
Japanese yen (100)   256.333
French franc          49.423
German mark          165.758
Italian lira (100)    16.743
Irish Punt           411.643
Belgian franc          8.037
Luxembourg franc       8.037
Finnish mark          54.525
Dutch guilder        147.114
Danish kr.            43.632
Austrian sch.         23.560
Spanish peseta         1.948
Swedish kr.           36.371
Norwegian kr.         39.140
Swiss franc          201.609
Port. Escudo           1.617
Aus. dollar          199.392
Can. dollar          206.931
Cyprus pound         559.488
Euro                 324.196
(M.P.)
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