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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-25

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, 25/11/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • National economy and finance minister calls for collective effort to get the Greek economy back on track
  • Drop in unemployment forecast for next two years
  • Athens unaware of reported Clinton visit
  • Athens prepared to defence EU July conditions
  • Pilots strike
  • Joint defence pact deals with Turkish threats and provides basis for Cyprus settlement,Tsohatzopoulos says
  • President criticises failure of superpowers to pressure Turkey
  • Developments expected this week in New Democracy

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Papantoniou calls for restraint in effort to curb inflation

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou today called on all Greeks to curb their financial demands so as to enable containment of inflation.

    Addressing the annual conference of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce, Papantoniou said reduction of inflation was the ''responsibility of not only the government but also of the entire society, and consequently businessmen, workers and real estate owners should curb their incomes demands''.

    Papantoniou reiterated the government's target of containing inflation at 4.5% by the end of 1997, a target which was contained in the recently drafted 1997 state budget, and called on the business world to ''display self-restraint so as to contribute to reducing inflation''.

    Stressing that the ''hard drachma'' foreign exchange policy would not change, Papantoniou said the target was for Greece to be in a position to seek, before the year 2000, its full participation in the European Union's economic and monetary union (EMU), adding that the essential fiscal streamlining was beginning today.

    He also stressed the need for combatting the ''clientelistic state'' and wasteful public sector spending ''so as to reduce the deficits through a coordinated and socially balanced effort, without placing extortionistic dilemmas before the working people''.

    Papantoniou further said ''contained increases'' above the anticipated inflation rate (8%) would be given in the public sector as of January 1, 1997, and announced acceleration of denationalisations in 1997, the year in which he also said a bill would be tabled in Parliament establishing the independence of the Bank of Greece.

    The minister also endorsed mergers of banks and enterprises with the aim of ''increasing their competitiveness''.

    Drop in unemployment forecast

    Unemployment will reach 9.6 per cent in 1997 and drop to 9.2 per cent in 1998, according to a half-yearly report of the National Economy Ministry on current economic developments which was published today.

    According to other forecasts for 1997 contained in the report, incomes policy will be restrictive, monetary policy will continue to be focused on the battle against inflation, while maintaining the parity of the drachma but without ruling out small short-term fluctuations in order to discourage speculatory movements of capital.

    Inflation in 1997, the report said, would drop to 4.5 per cent which would result in a further drop in nominal rates of interest.

    Athens unaware of reported Clinton visit

    The government has no knowledge of any development regarding a visit by US President Bill Clinton to Greece, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today commenting on press reports that Clinton would be visiting Athens and Ankara next June.

    ''Regarding a visit by President Clinton to Athens, the issue remains open, '' Reppas said, noting that Clinton had accepted an invitation to visit Greece extended by President Kostis Stephanopoulos when the two men met in Washington last May.

    Athens prepared to defend July decision - Reppas

    The government is alert, following developments and defending the decision taken by the European Union on July 15, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

    ''The government is neither worried nor complacent,'' Reppas said when asked if the government was concerned about the fact that it appeared to be isolated among its EU partners with its position on the way in which the Irish presidency is proposing a solution to the problem of Greek-Turkish relations.

    Athens has indicated it will block any decision by the EU to revive relations with Turkey if the Irish presidency's plan does not meet conditions set by the Community last July.

    The Irish plan will be discussed at today's Council of Foreign Ministers in Brussels. According to reports, the Irish presidency is expected to present a compromise proposal on Greek-Turkish issues which, however, does not satisfy Athens.

    Ship pilots strike

    Ships' pilots went on strike today to press their demand for an additional pay allowance based on length of service to be paid out of the Seamen's Pension Fund (NAT).

    Due to the strike, a large number of vessels remained at anchor outside the port of Piraeus, others have changed course and destination, while those already in port are unable to leave.

    Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis said last week that the behaviour of the pilots was of particular concern to him since they were ''out of touch with reality''.

    The stance of the pilots has already led to a re-examination of the usefulness of their service in its present form.

    Soumakis noted that pilots' salaries are already very high. He said that they were ''privileged employees who overstress demands of lesser importance''.

    He added that the ministry was examining the possibility of privatising the pilot service which he described as a ''private relationship safeguarded by the state without any benefit for the state''.


    Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in Nicosia yesterday that the defence pact between Greece and Cyprus provided the ability to deal with Turkish threats and also constituted the prerequisite for a peaceful settlement to the Cyprus issue.

    Speaking to reporters at the close of a four-day visit to the eastern Mediterranean island for talks with the Cyprus political leadership aiming at reviewing the defence pact with Greece, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the Greek-Cypriot joint defence doctrine constituted what he termed "a non- negotiable national choice" and that the materialisation and reinforcement of the pact was Greece's right to defend approximately "one tenth of the Hellenic nation."

    The two countries signed a defence pact in November 1993.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos assured that Greek aircraft would fly to the defence of Cyprus against a possible Turkish attack in the minimum time required.

    "Both Greece and Cyprus' adequate defence ability against any external threat or in order to overturn the occupation of a part of Cyprus, goes through the formulation of the common defence zone which at the same time forms the condition for the peaceful settlement of the occupation problem," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    Speaking at a joint press conference with his Cypriot counterpart Costas Eliades, the Greek defence minister said he was returning to Athens certain that both Greece and Cyprus were on the right path concerning the handling of provocations.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos and Mr. Eliades dismissed any talk about a ban of flyovers by Greek and Turkish aircraft over Cyprus, saying the former are legal and the latter illegal.

    Greek fighters fly to Cyprus at the invitation of the internationally- recognised government but Turkish planes fly over Cyprus in contravention of international law.

    The ministers also noted that the defence pact is not "a race to catch up with Turkey's defence capability," but a defensive pact to enable Cyprus to boost its defences and deter any possible offensive against the island.

    Complementing his reply, Mr. Eliades said that the decisions taken during Mr. Tsohatzopoulos's visit will result in bolstering Cyprus's air defences.

    "Our air defence capability will be strengthened significantly following our talks here," the Cypriot minister said.

    Meeting with foreign minister

    On Saturday, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos confirmed Greece's commitment to the joint defence doctrine in his meeting with Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides.

    "The common course of action, drafted by Greece and Cyprus to promote a Cyprus solution, push for Cyprus' accession to the European Union and boost the island's defences, shall not be deterred by any initiative," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told reporters after the meeting.

    He added that both countries will stick to the agreed strategy, irrespective of the content of any outside attempt dealing with the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking to the press, Mr. Michaelides said Mr. Tsohatzopoulos's visit to Cyprus signified the rapid pace at which the joint defence pact proceeds.

    "Cyprus cannot remain without any defence capability when the danger comes from within the country itself (the continuing Turkish occupation of part of the island)," he concluded.


    President Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday criticised the failure of "global superpowers" to exert pressure on Turkey to pursue a solution to the delineation of the Aegean continental shelf, attributing this failure to "other interests".

    "They are aware of Greece's just cause regarding the delineation of the Aegean continental shelf and are also aware of the ways which all international issues are resolved; they do not, however, because of (other) interests, exert appropriate pressure, advice or suggestion to the neighbouring country (Turkey) in order to find a just settlement to the issue," the president said at the close of a two-day visit to Thrace.

    "Greece's unquestionably just cause will finally prevail, because, in interpreting the Treaty of Lausanne, no one is able to change or alter it," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

    In statements on the border island of Samothrace, the president said Greece was making efforts to peacefully settle existing differences in Greek- Turkish relations caused by Turkey's "persistently offensive attitude."

    Mr. Stephanopoulos clarified there was only one issue in the Aegean, that of the delineation of the continental shelf.

    Athens reiterated on Friday that it would not treat the delineation of the Aegean continental shelf and the issue of the Imia islets as two aspects of a package deal, but would deal with the two issues separately.

    Developments on ND party congress expected this week

    Main opposition New Democracy party honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis said yesterday in Chania that issues concerning the party's congress will be cleared up this week.

    Speaking one day before party Vice-President Ioannis Varvitsiotis submits a proposal on the enlargement of the electoral base of the Congress, Mr. Mitsotakis said a solution to the existing problems in the party can only be given through a Congress "tha t will genuinely express the will of the people who voted and support ND."

    "ND must elect a leader who can lead New Democracy to victory in the next elections. He shall be the next party leader," Mr. Mitsotakis said.

    WEATHER

    Cloudy with rainfalls spreading in from the west. Winds southwesterly, becoming very strong in the open sea. Temperatures ranging from 14-18C in Athens and from 11-16C in Thessaloniki.

    SPORTS

    Weekend results of the Greek First Division soccer matches:
    Olympiakos - Aris     4 - 0
    Veria - Panathinaikos 0 - 0
    AEK - Edessa          2 - 0
    Kalamata - OFI        1 - 1
    Pyrgos - Heraklis     3 - 1
    PAOK - Ionikos        2 - 0
    Athinaikos - Kavala   1 - 4
    Apollon - Kastoria    2 - 0
    Panahaiki - Xanthi    will play this afternoon
    
    Standings: (after 9 matches)
     1. Olympiakos    23 points
     2. AEK           20
      . Panathinaikos 20
     4. OFI           19
     5. Pyrgos        17
     6. Panahaiki     15
     7. Kalamata      13
      . PAOK          13
     9. Veria         12
      . Kavala        12
      . Ionikos       12
    12. Xanthi         9
    13. Aris           7
      . Athinaikos     7
      . Apollon        7
    16. Edessa         5
      . Heraklis       5
    18. Kastoria       2
    

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)

    U.S. dlr 235.005, Can. dlr.175.782, Australian dlr. 190.464, Pound sterling 395.848, Irish punt 396.006, Cyprus pd 514.610, French franc 46.162, Swiss franc 185.221 Belgian franc 7.595, German mark 156.557, Finnish mark 51.812, Dutch guilder 139.569, Danish Kr. 40.751, Swedish Kr. 35.496, Norwegian Kr. 37.138, Austrian Sh. 22.231, Italian lira (100) 15.702, Yen (100) 211.236, Spanish Peseta 1.862, Portuguese Escudo 1.549.

    (M.P.)


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