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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-02

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, 02/11/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis announces public administration reforms
  • Committee begins study of legalisation of illegal immigrants
  • Mount Athos official denies refuge reports concerning Karadzic, Mladic
  • PKK leaders says Kurds will continue suicide bomb attacks
  • Parliament approves formation of investigation committee on controversial Floisvos casino licence
  • Greece, FYROM negotiations to resume on Wednesday
  • Venizelos discusses Greek-Italian cultural issues with Italian counterpart
  • Study: Greeks must work more hours than other Europeans to buy same products
  • Olympic holding cooperation talks with other int'l airlines
  • Greenpeace unveils solar-powered school on Crete

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Simitis announces public administration reforms

    The government is proceeding at full speed with radical changes to public administration in an effort to decentralise services and modernise the state's machinery, Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced yesterday. Speaking after a meeting with Public Adm inistration, Interior and Decentralisation Minister Alekos Papadopoulos, and the ministry's two undersecretaries, Lambros Papadimas and Tasos Mantelis, Mr. Simitis said the government's programme of long and short-term measures would streamline state serv ices.

    The transfer of ministerial services and central services to the regions will be completed within the next six months, Mr. Simitis said.

    "Our pre-election announcements on Sept. 2 have now become the government's policy statements with the programmes we will implement, and we will proceed with commitments within a specified time limit," Mr. Simitis said.

    "As of today (yesterday), Nov. 1, we are proceeding with the implementation of our programme. The challenges we are faced with as a society and a country render the restructuring of the state, the modernising of public administration and the upgrading of prefectural and local self-administration a top priority issue," he added.

    Legislation defining the regional areas as a unified decentralised administrative unit will be tabled in Parliament in the coming few days. Within the next three months, Mr. Simitis added, major informatics projects for the Social Security Foundation

    (IKA), the National Health System (ESY) and other state bodies will be approved to ensure the technological modernisation of public administration.

    Also expected within the next three months is a new code of conduct for civil servants with a new ranking system and simpler disciplinary procedures.

    Moves to merge regional communities will begin within the next year in an attempt to change the current situation of the country being divided into "thousands of small communities which are unable to meet the basic needs of citizens", Mr. Simitis said, adding that the process will get underway next year and the next local elections will be held with this map.

    Mr. Simitis said that medium-term measures until September 1997 anticipate modernisation of public administration, while the modernisation of the electoral process is also anticipated. Also included in the government's programme for public administratio n are measures to protect citizens' rights, with a planned bill establishing an independent "citizen's advocate" and streamlining of electoral procedures to allow citizens to vote in their place of residence.

    Earlier, Mr. Simitis and the interior ministry's civil leadership had a meeting with the country's 13 regional governors at the Maximos Mansion, who were briefed on the new settlements and the radical restructuring of regional administration and were gi ven instructions in light of the new upgraded role they will be playing in regions.

    Opposition response

    Mr. Simitis' announcements yesterday regarding the reforming of public administration were met with strong reservations by both the main opposition New Democracy party and the Coalition of the Left and Progress party (Synaspismos).

    New Democracy spokesman Prokopis Pavlopoulos described the announcements as being "grandilo-quent, vague and without substance," and noted that his party will closely follow implementation of the announcements.

    Synaspismos said the announcements were vague, and stressed that "they do not substitute for the need of a comprehensive policy for modernising public administration and decentralisation with self-administration."

    Committee begins study of legalisation of illegal immigrants

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

    Mr. Papaioannou was addressing the first meeting of a committee of experts from the labour, public order and foreign ministries as well as representatives of trade unions, employers and merchants, established to study legalisation of illegal immigrants in Greece currently.

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

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

    Mount Athos official denies refuge reports concerning Karadzic, Mladic

    A senior official of Mount Athos' supreme administrative body yesterday categorically dismissed press reports alleging that former Bosnian leader Radovan Karadzic and military chief Ratko Mladic have expressed a desire or have been invited to reside at th e Serbian monastery of Hiliandari.

    Press reports claimed that Mr. Karadzic and Gen. Mladic would testify through a satellite linkup to an International Court of Justice at The Hague hearing from the Serb monastery located on the monastic community.

    In comments to ANA, Mount Athos official Germanos said the press reports "are completely unfounded."

    According to sources in Karyes, the capital of Mount Athos, the Holy Community has never granted refuge to individuals accused of criminal acts.

    "Karadzic and Mladic are indicted on charges of mass killings," the source added.

    According to the sources, even if Mount Athos agreed to grant permission, this would have to be approved by the foreign ministry, since both Mr. Karadzic and Gen. Mladic are foreign nationals. This decision would also have to be approved by the Ecumenic al Patriarchate.

    The source added that neither the foreign ministry nor the Patriarchate have considered the issue.

    In earlier statements in Athens, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the government was not aware of such an issue, adding that no request for refuge had been forwarded.

    PKK leader says Kurds will continue suicide bomb attacks

    The leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) yesterday gave notice to Ankara that it would continue its suicide bomb campaign if Turkey maintained its policy of dealing with the Kurdish issue with force. "If the Turks continue the policy of a military solution for the Kurdish issue, the next few days will show that each Kurd is a bomb on the head of the Turkish state," a message from PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan read out at a press conference in Athens stated.

    A 17-year-old female PKK guerrilla, dressed to look pregnant, detonated a bomb she carried, killing herself and four others in a suicide bomb attack on an elite police force headquarters in the southeastern Turkish city of Adana last week -- the third such attack since July. The Kurdish National Liberation Front's representative for Balkan countries, Chevded Amed, said that the latest three attacks, all by Kurdish women, had taken the Kurdish resistance struggle into a new phase.

    Parliament approves formation of investigation committee on controversial Floisvos casino licence

    Parliament decided with a majority vote last night to form an investigation committee to examine possible responsiblities of former Tourism Minister Dionysis Livanos concerning the Floisvos casino licence.

    One hundred and fifty deputies voted in favour of the forming of such a committee, while 116 voted against, with 11 blank ballots cast and two abstentions. Twenty-one deputies were absent from the vote.

    Earlier in the debate, the government committed itself to having the committee's work brought to a speedy conclusion, while main opposition New Democracy claimed that adequate indications exist on the misconduct of the former tourism minister.

    Greece, FYROM negotiations to resume on Wednesday

    Negotiations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which are to be resumed on Wednesday under the auspices of the United Nations, are expected to enter a phase of clarification.

    An ANA dispatch from the United Nations yesterday quoted diplomatic circles as saying that there is no longer any reason for delay, underlining that all time and procedural limits have narrowed, and that the subject of the talks has almost been exhausted.

    The same circles estimate that it will appear in Wednesday's meeting, and on the basis of FYROM's expected answer, whether there are hopes for an agreement on the issue of the republic's international name or whether negotiations will be needed for othe r possible approaches to be used.

    Venizelos discusses Greek-Italian cultural issues with Italian counterpart

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and his Italian counterpart and government vice-president, Valter Veltroni, discussed yesterday in Rome the organisation of a series of Greek-Italian cultural events, said an ANA dispatch from Italy.

    Events include an Italian film festival within the framework of the 1997 Thessaloniki film festival and a symposium of Italian and other European intellectuals in Thessaloniki on the subject of "Culture of the Third Millenium."

    Study: Greeks must work more hours than other Europeans to buy same products

    The difference in work hours needed by the working Greek to buy food and other consumer goods is larger compared to corresponding figures for other European countries, according to an announcement yesterday by the Consumers' Institute (INKA).

    Giving an example, INKA said that to purchase 185 products a worker in Greece must work for almost a year, while a German worker only 179 days.

    Specifically, a worker in Greece has to work 95 hours, 46 minutes to buy 100 types of foodstuffs, while 57 hours, 10 minutes are required in Britain, 58 hours in France, 48.5 hours in Germany and 69 hours, 12 minutes in Italy.

    To buy 50 household and personal care products, a worker in Greece must work 53 hours, 15 minutes, while the average in the other European countries ranges from 30 to 43 hours.

    INKA further points out that a persisting phenomenon is a major difference in prices for standardised goods from one city to another and one store to another.

    Olympic holding cooperation talks with other int'l airlines

    Olympic Airways is conducting talks with foreign airline companies concerning strategic cooperation that will reportedly offer OA's passengers more routes and destinations, an OA official said yesterday.

    OA's assistant general director Stavros Daliakos told reporters at the 12th "Philoxenia" exhibition that OA had already begun talks with carriers in North America, Australia, Indonesia and India.

    "Olympic is entering the international arena of alliances, albeit belatedly, " Mr. Daliakos said, adding: "These agreements will be the central axes of OA's overseas policy, and aim at being able to transfer passengers around the world within Olympic's n etwork as well as with other airlines' craft." OA's general manager Iordanis Karatzas said that similar agreements would be concluded with central and eastern European countries, with Thessaloniki taking on the role of the Balkans' major transit point for these destinations.

    Greece's national carrier has already signed cooperation agreements with Hungary's Malev and Bulgaria's Balkan, and is in the process of concluding agreements with airlines in Romania, Yugoslavia, Armenia and Ukraine.

    Greenpeace unveils solar-powered school on Crete

    Greece's first solar-powered school was presented yesterday to the public by the international environmental organisation Greenpeace. The school, in the village of Goudoura, Crete, is considered an important step in developing the use of solar en ergy in Greece.

    Through the solar energy system installed in the school, Greece's Public Power Corp. (DEH) will be able to store energy when there is not enough solar energy.

    Greenpeace funded the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment and installation of the system, as part of its campaign to promote alternative sources of energy.

    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.S.)


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