|Saturday, 25 January 2020|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 00-01-17
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <ert.ntua.gr/>
 FOREIGN MINISTER BEGINS DIPLOMATIC MARATHON ABROADForeign Minister George Papandreou is conducting a diplomatic marathon for the next 20 days, with his first stop being Ankara, where he is expected to sign nine agreements relating mainly to economic, crime, terrorism, educational and cultural issues. His Turkish counterpart, Ismail Cem, will respond to the initiative by visiting Athens in the near future.
In the meantime, in a report published in the Athens Sunday newspaper, "Kathimerini tis Kyriakis," the Greek foreign minister said foreign policy was no longer practised through traditional diplomacy, but was shaped by citizens themselves.
Mr Papandreou presented his views and the new Greek diplomatic strategy regarding stability, democracy and developments in the Balkans. In an exclusive interview with the same newspaper, Cypriot Foreign Minister Yannakis Kasoulides has declared his willingness to respond positively if invited to Ankara for talks with the Turkish leadership. At the same time, he emphasized that a solution to the Cyprus issue required the right attitude to the concerns expressed by both sides.
 NEW ALLEGATIONS BY CYPRIOT SPEAKERThe speaker of the Cypriot House of Representatives and the leader of the DEKO party, Spiros Kyprianou, yesterday made fresh accusations against the Greek and Cypriot governments, claiming that an attempt was underway to bring to an end a plot initiated in July 1974, with the treason of the Greek junta and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
Speaking at an event organised by his party's branch in England, he said that for some time now, in both Cyprus and Greece, there had developed a mentality which had led to dangerous experiments as regards the handling of the Cyprus issue. He further claimed that Cyprus had now entered a course towards a solution based on two separate entities -- in other words, a confederation solution.
In the meantime, Cypriot Defence Minister Socrates Hasikos has denied reports that the Cypriot government was discussing disengagement measures along the United Nations buffer zone within the context of confidence-building measures promoted by the UN. The disengagement issue came to an end in August 1997, he asserted.
 DRACHMA REVALUATION OPENS UP NEW PROSPECTS FOR GREECEThe new central parity of the Greek drachma -- decided by the European Union monetary committee in Brussels on Saturday -- has in essence opened the gates of the Economic and Monetary Union for Greece. The new parity was fixed at 340.75 drachmas per euro, from 353 drachmas, resulting in a revaluation of the country's national currency, by 3.5%.
National economy minister Yiannos Papantoniou has stated that the new parity of Greece's national currency would facilitate efforts to reduce the inflation rate, to lower interest rates and the inflow of foreign capital, stressing that the drachma was revaluated for the first time in the post-war period.
Meanwhile, the main opposition New Democracy party has described the decision reached in Brussels on the revaluation of the drachma, as the last act in a series of retractions. The Greek Communist party has said that the change in the drachma parity is anti-popular, while the Coalition of the Left claimed the government preferred the option of a hard drachma in dealing with inflation, which was at the same time being re-fuelled by uncontrollable speculation.
In addition, the Democratic Social Movement believes that the government is seeking early elections, before the Greek people learn about the tough terms that will be imposed in view of Greece's admission to the euro zone. The Political Spring party voiced the opinion that the government's inability to control inflation has led to the inevitable revaluation of the drachma, with the result that the Greek economy's competitiveness would be reduced.
 ND PARTY CONFIDENT OF ELECTION WINNew Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, who is currently in Thessaloniki, said in an interview published yesterday in "Kathimerini tis Kyriakis" newspaper, that his party was prepared to meet -- as the government -- the challenge created by the country's EMU entry.
Mr. Karamanlis appeared confident of ND's victory in the upcoming national elections this year, and maintained that the government was not telling the Greek people the truth in relation to the difficulties the economy would soon face, due to the economic policies followed.
 SOCIAL POLICY MEASURES TO BE ANNOUNCEDIn an interview with the Sunday newspaper "To Vima Tis Kyriakis," Finance undersecretary George Drys said Prime Minister Kostas Simitis was expected to announce measures relating to social policy, increased employment, boosting the health sector, education, as well as small and medium-sized businesses.
The relative announcement on this package of measures, said Mr Drys, was the result of the government's wise fiscal policy, which in turn, has led to a budget surplus of almost 500 billion drachmas.
Mr Drys also said that no new taxes would be imposed in the year 2000 and that the objective values of real estate would freeze for the entire year, forecasting that tax revenues would increase this year at a rate of 5.3% and the Gross National Product will rise by 4.6%, while overall tax charges would be reduced.
 BRITISH DEFENCE SECRETARY ON OFFICIAL GREEK VISITThe British Secretary of Defence today begins a two-day official visit to Greece. He is scheduled to arrive this morning in Thessaloniki, where he will be met by his Greek counterpart, Akis Tsohatzopoulos. The two defence ministers will then inspect the Greek Weapons Industry facilities in Sindo.
 RECENT BUSINESS TRIP TO KOSOVO SUCCESSFULA recent visit to Kosovo by a large team of Greek businessmen in a bid to look for possible investment opportunities in the region has been reported as successful. The visit was organised by the Association of Industries of Northern Greece and the Greek-American Chamber of Commerce.