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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 00-01-25

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <ert.ntua.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] CYPRUS ISSUE TO BE DISCUSSED IN DAVOS
  • [02] EU MONETARY COMMITTEE WORKS ON GREECE'S REVISED EMU PROGRAMME
  • [03] CUTS IN INTEREST RATES EXPECTED TO BOOST BOURSE INDEX
  • [04] DEBATE ON COMPOUND INTEREST AMENDMENT IN PARLIAMENT TODAY
  • [05] GOVERNMENT REITERATES DENIAL ON EARLY ELECTIONS
  • [06] NEW HOVERCRAFTS FOR GREEK NAVY
  • [07] NEW ATHENS METRO BEGINS OPERATING ON FRIDAY

  • [01] CYPRUS ISSUE TO BE DISCUSSED IN DAVOS

    According to reports from Cyprus radio, the long-standing Cyprus dispute is to be on the informal agenda of a new meeting between Greek foreign minister George Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart, Ismail Cem, to be held in Davos, Switzerland, this weekend on the sidelines of the annual economic and political forum. The report added that even though the Turkish foreign minister publicly appears to be inflexible on the Cyprus issue, he has been following a different strategy in his private meetings with the Greek foreign minister, and has let it be understood that the Turkish side will probably be willing to sit at the negotiating table in the future, having adopted a more positive approach to the Cyprus problem.

    Reliable sources indicate that Mr. Cem has asked his Greek counterpart for more time, due to domestic instability in Turkey and to objections by Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who is backed by hardline circles in Ankara. Mr. Papandreou phoned his Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Kasoulidis, yesterday and briefed him on his talks with the Turkish foreign minister. The two men are likely to meet in Zurich this Saturday, prior to Mr. Papandreou's meeting with Mr. Cem in Davos.

    In a related development, the current president of the European Union's Council of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday in Brussels that EU-Turkish relations were showing positive signs for the first time, due mainly to the improvement in Greek-Turkish relations. Commenting on Mr. Papandreou's talks in Ankara, the Turkish president Suleiman Demirel said there had been major progress in Greek-Turkish relations, adding that this positive climate should be preserved. President Demirel said he found Mr. Papandreou to be a very sincere man, while the Turkish foreign minister described him as friendly, experienced, polite, and educated, with a sense of humour. Mr. Demirel also pointed out that there could be very good cooperation between Greece and Turkey.

    He mentioned the recent rapprochement between the two peoples, following last year's earthquakes in the two countries, as well as the upcoming European soccer championship, with matches scheduled to be held in Athens, Thessaloniki, Constantinople and Smyrna. Meanwhile, govt spokesman dimitris reppas said today that the foreign policy had been decided by govt bodies and was being implemented in accordance with decisions taken at the Helsinki summit. He made the comments following strong criticisms by former foreign minister Thodoros pangalos against foreign minister george papandreou's handling of greek-turkish relations.

    [02] EU MONETARY COMMITTEE WORKS ON GREECE'S REVISED EMU PROGRAMME

    The European Union's Monetary Committee met in Brussels yesterday, to draft the revised EMU convergence programme submitted by Greece. The committee's final report will be submitted on Monday, January 31, to the Council of Finance Ministers. In the meantime, Greece will submit its application for admission into the Economic and Monetary Union in March. The decision will not be taken until June, but the government's economic staff wants to be prepared for any eventuality. For this reason, the prime minister's advisers have reactivated the election planning group, despite the fact that in their official statements they appear reluctant to take any risks until the decision for EMU admission becomes final. In a recent interview with the daily newspaper, "Ta Nea," the National Economy minister, Yannos Papantoniou, has attempted to disassociate the EMU admision from the issue of general elections. He said that the economy could withstand a protracted pre-election period, and that there would be no difficulty in implementing an economic policy in the next few months.

    [03] CUTS IN INTEREST RATES EXPECTED TO BOOST BOURSE INDEX

    The general share price index on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday fell slightly by 0.40 percent, closing at 5,081.95 points. However, it is expected that a drop in interest rates-to be announced by the Bank of Greece tomorrow- will have a positive impact on the financial market. Meanwhile, next Wednesday, the EU Monetary Council and the Bank of Greece will meet to decide on the cut in interbank interest rates. The measure is expected to further boost development, as Greece is the only country in the world which is reducing interest rates at a time when there is a tendency for higher interest rates in both the United States and Europe.

    [04] DEBATE ON COMPOUND INTEREST AMENDMENT IN PARLIAMENT TODAY

    A debate on a controversial amendment to legislation on compound interest will begin in parliament today. The improved amendment, which is expected to settle thousands of pending cases, was tabled in parliament yesterday. National Economy minister Yannos Papantoniou appealed to banks to include in the new provisions cases of loans for which settlement agreements have been made with the borrowers-the majority of whom are farmers.

    [05] GOVERNMENT REITERATES DENIAL ON EARLY ELECTIONS

    The government has once again denied rumours about early general elections this year and has warned against unfounded speculation on the subject. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the government was concerned at this stage only with carrying out its work. However, despite the denials, both the ruling Pasok party and the opposition parties appear to be in a state of readiness.

    [06] NEW HOVERCRAFTS FOR GREEK NAVY

    The National Defence ministry will buy new high-speed hovercraft vessels for the Greek Navy. National Defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos has signed contracts for the craft, amounting to 65 billion drachmas with two Russian and Ukranian companies. Each of the vessels can carry a load of up to ten tonnes- that is, three tanks, or ten personnel carrier vehicles of 500 soldiers. The ships can develop a speed of up to 60 knots and can fly over obstacles up to a height of one and a half metres. They will be used for the fast transport of army units to all parts of the Aegean.

    [07] NEW ATHENS METRO BEGINS OPERATING ON FRIDAY

    On Friday, the first line of the long-awaited Athens metro will begin operating. It is estimated that in the first stages of its operation, it will service 350,000 commuters daily. The inauguration ceremony will be attended by the President of the Republic, Costis Stephanopolis and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
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