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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-22

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, 22/11/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis, Evert cross swords in Parliament over economy
  • Evert, Constantopoulos agree on need for meeting on foreign policy
  • Spain's Juan Carlos to visit Greece
  • Pangalos totally rejects idea of package deal for Aegean, Cyprus
  • Simitis, d'Alema talks focus on E.U. issues, challenges facing Europe
  • Turkey warplanes again violate Athens FIR
  • Bulgarian official says disagreements over Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline resolved
  • Electronics transactions system for bourse approved

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Simitis, Evert cross swords in Parliament over the economy

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Miltiades Evert crossed swords today in Parliament over observations made by the European Commission on the Greek economy contained in its recently published twice-yearly review of economic conditions in the European Union.

    Describing a question tabled by Evert as ''alarmist'', Simitis said the report constituted a routine review of the economies of all the countries seeking to attain convergence, within the framework of which the course of the Greek economy was also examined.

    Simitis noted that the EU's monetary committee had ascertained significant progress in the Greek economy but also numerous problems which still had to be resolved.

    He added that Greece's deficit would be 7.9 per cent of GDP at the end of the year, against the target of 7.6 per cent.

    Accusing ND of contradicting itself, Simitis said Evert was ''on the one hand sounding the alarm about the economy while at the same time reacting to the government's economic measures''.

    ''They should decide once and for all what they want,'' the premier added.

    Evert responded by accusing the government of having become helpless in the face of foreign initiatives and decisions.

    ''Mr. Simitis does not understand that with its report on the Greek economy, the European Commission is exerting political pressure pertaining to our national issues,'' Evert said.

    It was inconceivable, Evert continued, for the Commission to threaten to cut off Cohesion Fund finance to Greece solely because of ''a small divergence of 0.3 per cent from the target set''.

    ''Your government is incapable of stopping such procedures and the only thing you do is to run around after the event,'' Evert said.

    Simitis retorted by saying Evert was not informed of matters.

    ''Studies on the course of the economies of all the countries are conducted at many levels in the EU and certain observations are made in the report in question. It is nothing in particular and under no circumstances can one speak of pressure,'' Simitis said.

    He added that Greece would attain the deficit target of 7.6 per cent set by the EU.

    Evert, Constantopoulos agree on need for foreign policy coordination

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Miltiades Evert and Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos agreed today that a meeting of the country's political party leaders should be held to discuss the entire spectrum of Greek foreign policy.

    The two party leaders met today to discuss Greek-Turkish relations in light of statements yesterday by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos. They also discussed issues related to the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).

    At the same time, Evert and Constantopoulos agreed on the need for a regular parliamentary debate ''so that the Greek people may be informed about the government's European policy''.

    Constantopoulos accused the government of ''double-talk'' and a lack of strategy on foreign affairs ''which weakens the country's international position''.

    ND spokesman Prokopis Pavlopoulos also criticised the government for what he claimed was ''a lack of foreign policy''.

    Constantopoulos will meet with President Costis Stephanopoulos on Tuesday to set out his views on the need for a meeting of political party leaders.

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas has sent a letter to Constantopoulos accepting only the parliamentary debate and not the meeting, Constantopoulos said, adding that he was expecting a reply to his proposal from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the government.

    Spain's Juan Carlos to visit

    A number of foreign leaders, including King Juan Carlos of Spain, will visit Greece in the near future at dates yet to be fixed, presidential office sources said today.

    The sources added that President Kostis Stephanopoulos had extended official invitations to visit Greece to the presidents of Tunisia and Uzbekistan as well as to the kings of Belgium and Spain.

    The dates for the visits will be fixed through diplomatic channels, the sources said.


    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos yesterday categorically ruled out the possibility of Greece accepting to enter into a dialogue with Turkey on issues pertaining to the Aegean together with the Cyprus problem as a "package".

    Mr. Pangalos said Athens also ruled out any simultaneous recourse to the International Court of Justice at the Hague over the issue of the Imia islets and the Aegean continental shelf.

    Greece and Turkey came to the brink of war in late January after Ankara openly disputed Greek sovereignty of the uninhabited Aegean islets of Imia.

    Mr. Pangalos was speaking at a press conference exclusively on the issue of Greek-Turkish relations, in order, as he put it, "to clear up any confusion about Greece's foreign policy".

    The Greek government, he said, remains unswerving in its position that it is not possible to discuss the Cyprus problem and the issues pertaining to the Aegean simultaneously and together "as a single set of negotiations".

    Greece expected to veto EU-Turkey Association Council

    Mr. Pangalos, who later hosted a working lunch for the ambassadors of the European Union member-states in Athens, also spoke about EU-Turkish relations, in effect announcing a Greek veto at the next General Affairs Council on Nov. 25. Greece, he said, had already made numerous concessions and gestures of good will towards Turkey but was not willing to consent to the convening of the EU-Turkey Association Council, which has been persistently requested by many EU member-states, nor to a lunch invitation to the Turkish premier from Irish premier John Bruton on the sidelines of the forthcoming EU summit meeting in Dublin.
    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and leader of the Italian Party of the Democratic Left, Massimo d'Alema, yesterday discussed ways of increasing cooperation and initiatives on the part of European socialist parties to face social problems and challenges in Europe.

    "At the beginning of my discussion with comrade d'Alema, I said I sensed that European countries are all in a 'bus' heading in a direction which is not clear, and is driven in a way that has not been agreed upon by those participating...

    "European socialist parties should undertake initiatives so that it becomes most clear that we are heading in a direction of fighting umemployment, of social justice and other arrengements which will make Europe more endeared and acceptable to European peoples...,Mr. Simitis said.

    The two men also discussed a wide array of other issues, particularly concerning the European Union.

    "We also referred to the issue of the European Union`s external policy, the need for the EU to have its own views and play a role, that European unification, which we consider necessary, implies as a condition the gradual delineation of a European iden tity through a joint handling of external policy problems...

    On his part, Mr. d'Alema said the two countries "are committed at a government level to seek ways of approaching the targets of fiscal and economic rationalisation set by the Treaty of Maastricht."

    "This target of European convergence, which we see as a necessary prospect, must, in my opinion, be accompanied by a turning of European policy in the direction of balancing employment between the geographically stronger and weaker countries, of social rights, harmonising tax policies and recreating a popular consensus," he added.

    The leader of the largest party in the Italian government coalition then expressed his full support for Greece's stand that differences with Turkey in the Aegean must be settled on the basis of international law and treaties.

    "I expressed our understanding and solidarity with the need for a stronger European ommitment, so that we may arrive at a peaceful settlement of tensions in the Aegean...

    "And most certainly, the Greek stand calling for settlement of these problems in the light of international law and not through unilateral initiatives and unjustifiable tensions is correct," he said.


    Nine Turkish F-16 and F-4 "Phantom" jetfighter formations yesterday violated air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) on 12 occasions and Greek national airspace 19 times in the central Aegean.

    In all cases, the Turkish fighters were intercepted by Hellenic Air Force planes and escorted out of Greek national airspace, sources said.

    No question of decriminalising hashish, Yiannopoulos says

    Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos told Parliament yesterday that he was opposed to the decriminalisation of drug use, saying he had no intention of putting hashish on sale in kiosks and in schools.

    Speaking during discussion of a question tabled by Coalition of the Left and Progress deputy Maria Damanaki, Mr. Yiannopoulos said "we cannot be lenient towards the scourge of narcotics".

    Ms Damanaki said that decriminalisation would help combat the spread of narcotics, to which Mr. Yiannopoulos replied that the measures to be taken by the government will be harsher for dealers and not for users. "Newspaper reports to the contrary are the result of vile distortion by certain journalists," Mr. Yiannopoulos added.

    The minister said special correctional institutions would be set up for drug users in order to segregate them from imprisoned dealers.

    A tender would soon be announced for the creation of the first such institution, he added.


    "Disagreements have been overcome...and we are proceeding to implementation of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project," said Nikolai Grigorov, Bulgaria's deputy minister for regional development and public works.

    The Bulgarian official made the statements yesterday during the sidelines of a Greek-Bulgarian meeting in Komotini.

    He added that experts from Greece, Bulgaria and Russia would meet again before the end of the year in order to discuss details of the final plans. In addition, he said the Sofia government will soon present proposals for establishment of a joint venture company to undertake the project.


    The Athens Stock Exchange's (ASE) board of governors yesterday approved the purchase of a two-billion drachma integrated electronic transactions system.

    The board also approved a contract with a consortium of three auditing firms, Ernst & Young, Delloitte & Touche, and Peat Marwick Kyriakou, which have undertaken the task of auditing all stock brokerage firms that are members of ASE.

    Additionally, it assigned Ernst & Young with the task of recommending specific improvements in the supervisory control of ASE transactions.

    WEATHER

    Sunny to partly cloudy with moderate northern winds in most parts of the country. Temperatures will range from 14-19C in Athens and from 11-16C in Thessaloniki.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)

    U.S. dlr 234.568 Can. dlr.175.326, Australian dlr. 190.196 Pound sterling 394.955, Irish punt 395.907, Cyprus pd 514.669, French franc 46.261, Swiss franc 185.479 Belgian franc 7.596, German mark 156.562 Finnish mark 51.911, Dutch guilder 139.550 Danish Kr. 40.755, Swedish Kr. 35.518, Norwegian Kr. 37.111, Austrian Sh. 22.250, Italian lira (100) 15.678 Yen (100) 210.145 Spanish Peseta 1.865, Portuguese Escudo 1.550.

    (M.P.)


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