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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-01

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.forthnet.gr/ape>


NEWS IN ENGLISH

ATHENS, Greece, 01/11/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece first choice for Balkan illegal immigrants
  • Gov't comments on moratorium on military exercises in Aegean
  • Police confiscate 37 kilos of hashish in drug haul
  • Premier, Economy Minister meet on 1997 budget
  • Greece rejects Turkish protests over UNESCO events
  • ''Parmenion '96'' military exercise begins
  • Defence Minister says withdrawal of peacekeepers won't advance peace in Bosnia, schedules Cyprus visit
  • Greenpeace 'commandos' scale power plant smokestacks on Crete
  • Central Bank governor calls for faster rate of revenues collection, less spending
  • EIB renews support for Greek natural gas system

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Greece first choice for Balkan illegal immigrants

    Greece is the country with the largest influx of illegal immigrants from the Balkans, Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou said today, putting the present number of illegal aliens in the country at 400, 000.

    Papaioannou was addressing the first meeting of a committee of experts from the labour, public order and foreign ministries aand representatives of the social partners, trade unions, employers and merchants set up to study legalisation of illegal immigrants.

    The committee will complete its task in four months and will propose a draft Presidential Decree on the issue to the government.

    According to Papaioannou, legalisation will erect a barrier against racism and xenophobia "which dynamite to the foundations of society'', while at the same time it will serve the needs of the labour market and put an end to the exploitation of immigrants.

    Under the bill, immigrants will be provided with a temporary residence permit and a temporary working permit, both renewable.

    But tackling the problem of illegal immigrants not entered into the legalisation process remains a thorn, as does control of the borders to stem the entry of other illegal immigrants.

    Reppas comments on moratorium on military exercises

    There is no conflict or breach between Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Foreign Undersecretary Christos Rozakis, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

    Reppas was responding to press questions regarding Tsohatzopoulos's response to Rozakis's reported proposal that the moratorium on military exercises between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean be extended.

    Rozakis's personal opinion on the moratorium, Reppas said, fell within the boundaries of the government's foreign policy. Rozakis was appointed to the foreign ministry to contribute ideas to the drafting of a foreign policy within a general position outline.

    "At this moment there is no issue of a Greek-Turkish moratorium because, although Athens desires the implementation of the (1988) memorandum (signed by the then Greek and Turkish foreign ministers)... a prerequisite is that a corresponding desire be shown by Turkey, something which is not happening, " Reppas said.

    Reppas said there were "no margins if Ankara did not take the first step", which was to take its dispute over the Greek islet of Imia to the International Court at The Hague.

    "Greece," Reppas added, "insists on a process of step-by-step rapprochement".

    Police net 37 kilos of hashish in drug haul

    Police said today they had arrested two men in a drug swoop that netted 37 kilos of hashish and smaller amounts of cocaine and heroin.

    Marko Syrigo, 32, and Lambros Dardis, 36, are the Greek arm of what police say is an Albanian-based ring, distributing hashish in the Attica region.

    Police also found a handgun, four mobile phones and 530,000 drachmas in the men's possession.

    Meanwhile, police also announced the arrests of two Albanians found in possession of one kilo of heroin.

    Premier, Economy Minister meet on 1997 budget

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday agreed on ways to cut back 150 billion drachmas on public expenditures at their meeting yesterday.

    Mr. Papantoniou briefed Mr. Simitis on the ministry's planned economic measures as well as on progress concerning the drafting of the 1997 budget and incomes policy. According to sources, a planned bill on public expenditures aims at drastically cutti ng back on subsidies and operating costs for ministries, such as overtime, miscellaneous expenses and office supplies. The bill also foresees mergers or abolitions of services and organisations as well as a lid on appointments in the public sector, with one hiring made for every five departures.

    Another bill on the abolition of tax exemptions, Mr. Papantoniou told the prime minister, was nearing completion and would be tabled in Parliament soon.

    Methods to raise revenues for the state, including proposals for a real estate tax, taxation of foreign exchange deposit accounts, derivatives and other financial products as well as state titles, were also discussed by the two men at the meeting.

    On incomes policy, various options are still being examined, given the standing consideration - and pre-election pledge - that wage increases will be higher than forecast inflation.

    Inflation for 1997 is projected at 5-6 percent, which means that total increases will range between 8-10 percent, as both wage-earners and pensioners will receive a corrective amount of 2-3 per cent and approximately 1 per cent for "participation in gro wth".

    Later, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told a press briefing that the 1997 budget would be tabled in Parliament by November 30 at the latest.

    Greece rejects Turkish protest over UNESCO events

    Athens has flatly dismissed a demarche by Ankara over UNESCO-organised cultural events last week near the uninhabited Greek islet of Imia, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced yesterday. Mr. Reppas said Greece rejected the verbal demarche conveyed to the Greek embassy in Turkey on Friday as "unacceptable in its entirety." "There were no margins for discussion as the events occurred in Greek sovereign territory," Mr. Reppas said.

    The Club UNESCO Dodecanese organised an international meeting on peace over the weekend, which included cruises around the islands of Kalymnos, Kalolymnos and Imia, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the organisation.

    "The climate in relations between Greece and Turkey is not positive and this is due to Turkey's unwillingness to take any effort at rapprochement whatsoever," Mr. Reppas said.

    Parmenion '96 military exercise begins

    A military exercise code-named "Parmenion '96" began in northern Greece yesterday with the participation of all three arms of the Hellenic armed forces, the defence ministry announced.

    The annual exercise, taking place in the Evros prefecture and the Aegean, will include landing craft operations with air force and naval back- up.

    The final phase of the exercise will be staged on the eastern Aegean island of Samos in early November.

    In addition, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos has expressed interest in attending the final stage.

    Informed sources said that the exercise's plan also includes the re-taking of an isle.

    In a related issue, when asked to comment on press reports in an Athens daily that Turkey had established a crisis management and operations centre on the Turkish coast facing the Greek islet of Imia, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said i t was an issue of concern only for Turkey.

    "It does not concern us what our neighbours do but what we do," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    He added that there was no particular concern over the fact that Turkey was conducting exercises in the Aegean at the same time as Greece.

    Defence Minister says withdrawal of peacekeepers won't advance peace in Bosnia

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos assessed yesterday that at present, peace will not be safeguarded in Bosnia with the withdrawal of foreign troops, in light of the fact that the limit for a multinational peace force in Bosnia expires on Dec. 15. The issue will be examined at the European Union summit. Whether or not the Greek force will remain in Bosnia will depend on the position of the other states, he said, adding, "if they leave, we will leave."

    The Minister will pay his first visit to Cyprus from Nov. 21-24, while talks with his Cypriot counterpart Costas Eliades will focus on issues concerning the widening of possibilities for strengthening the unified defence d octrine and common armaments within the framework of joint efforts between Greece and Cyprus.

    During his stay on the island republic, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will have talks with the political leaders of Cyprus.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that in the first half of 1997 the political leadership of the national defence ministry will start visits abroad to promote existing agreements or sign new ones, with their first stops being the Balkans.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos will participate in the corresponding sessions of NATO and West European Union (WEU) national defence ministers in December.

    Referring to military dialogue in Cyprus, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said it was taking place through the UN, adding that the Cypriot government has accepted, adding however, that he was not aware whether results will be produced.

    Greenpeace 'commandos' scale power plant smokestacks on Crete

    Members of the Greek branch of the international environmental advocacy group Greenpeace climbed the smokestacks of a Public Power Corp. (DEH) plant in Linoperamata, Irakleio yesterday, raising a huge banner protesting the creation of another power plant on Crete.

    Protesters also accused DEH and the government of refusing to adopt positions advocating the use of alternative sources of energy to solve the large island's electricity problem.

    They called for Crete to become a model of environment-friendly sources of energy, saying that "clean solutions" must be adopted right away.

    All 15 Greenpeace members, who were still on the smokestacks at presstime, were expected to meet with DEH officials.

    Central bank governor calls for faster rate of revenue collection, less spending

    Governor of the Bank of Greece Lucas Papademos yesterday issued a warning on the economy, stressing the need for measures to accelerate the rate of income collection, restriction of spending and the rationalisation of the labour market, to which the central bank pays particular attention.

    Speaking at the British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce (BHCC), Mr. Papademos stressed that exchange policy will remain anti- inflationary, but clarified that there will be greater flexibility in order to avoid profit-making moves by international investors.

    He stressed that the increased capital inflows appearing do not only have positive influence on the reduction of lending costs, but also hide dangers, which are mainly related to the short-term character of the influence.

    Mr. Papademos stressed the need for changes in the labour market, which he said must take international developments into account, the relation of labour costs in Greece and abroad and the relationship between production and payment.

    Regarding the balance of payments, he said that persistent high inflation has led to a deterioration of the balance of payments.

    He concluded by stressing the need for Greece to participate in the European monetary union by 2001, saying this will be a defining development for the country.

    EIB renews support for Greek natural gas system

    The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term lending institution, renewed its support for the construction and operation of a high pressure transmission and distribution system of natural gas in Greece by extending a new ECU 200 mill ion (60.6 million drachmas) loan to the Public Gas Corportation of Greece (DEPA) this week.

    The loan agreement was signed in Luxembourg on Tuesday and forms part of a larger facility of up to ECU 300 million approved by the EIB. Financing will be phased over the project's construction period. Designed in the late 80s, the project started being contructed in 1990. The high pressure system is e xpected to be operational in its entirety by the year 1999.

    WEATHER

    Sunny to partly cloudy with local showers in several parts of the country. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures ranging from 12-19C. Sunny and mild in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 4-16C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)

    U.S. dlr 235.660 Can. dlr.175.822, Australian dlr. 186.794 Pound sterling 383.706, Irish punt 384.896, Cyprus pd 512.864, French franc 46.188, Swiss franc 187.672 Belgian franc 7.566, German mark 155.828 Finnish mark 52.110, Dutch guilder 138.979 Danish Kr. 40.618, Swedish Kr. 35.966, Norwegian Kr. 36.922, Austrian Sh. 22.166, Italian lira (100) 15.557 Yen (100) 207.378 Spanish Peseta 1.851, Portuguese Escudo 1.545.

    (M.P.)


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