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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-28

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, 28/11/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Evert-Mitsotakis clash spills over into ND political council meeting
  • Nationwide 24-hour strike cripples Greece
  • Turkish secret services linked to forest fires on Greek isles
  • NATO, former Warsaw Pact officers meet in Thessaloniki
  • Ships stranded as seamen join general strike
  • Govt. confident E.U. fund absorption will be good next year
  • Effects of "hard drachma" policy on exports to be studied

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    The main opposition New Democracy party's political council session took place amidst considerable tension yesterday, marked by yet another clash between ND leader Miltiades Evert and former premier Constantine Mitsotakis, in the aftermath of the latter's recent interview in a monthly magazine which rekindled a long-standing feud between the two men.

    Sources said that in addressing ND's honorary president and former premier, Mr. Evert stressed that he would not be invited to the political council in future, because he had undermined the authority and history of the party with his recent statements.

    Referring to a charge by Mr. Mitsotakis in the interview with the magazine "Status" that he (Evert) was not telling the Greek people the truth, Mr. Evert said: "You cannot call other people liars...I have been elected twice through democratic procedures and I have to defend the dignity of my office".

    Mr. Mitsotakis replied that he participated in the council according to provisions in the party's charter, and it was not within the ND leader's right to exclude him, stressing that he ought to be prepared to accept criticism in view of the agreement reached in the council's last session, namely, that all contenders for the ND leadership should have equal opportunities and should not be threatened with expulsion.

    After the session, Mr. Mitsotakis stated he would return to the political council after the ND congress next year.

    He also dismissed fears of the party's split.

    Nationwide 24-hour strike today

    Labour unions are went on 24-hour nationwide general strike today to protest the government's recent economic policy and taxation measures.

    The General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) have called for strike actions, which is expected to paralyse the country. Employees in hospitals, the mass transportation sector, banks , public utilities, industry and commerce also participating, while farmers are expected to block national roads around the country.

    Taxi drivers were scheduled to begin a strike at 5 this morning, which will be continued until 5 a.m. tomorrow.

    Teachers and nursery school staff declared strikes yesterday, following a meeting between teachers' representatives and Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis, which was deemed by the former as unsatisfactory. The teachers will meet with the minister agai n on Monday.

    Due to the strikes, traffic restrictions in Athens will not be in force today, and all private cars may circulate freely within the capital's restricted zone.

    Turkish link to forest fires

    A fatal traffic accident earlier this month near the Turkish village of Susurluk, which exposed connections between the neighbouring nation's underworld and the state, has also produced allegations of involvement by Ankara's secret services in several forest fires that devastated several Greek islands in recent years.

    The continuing public controversy in Turkey regarding the involvement of the extremist right-wing "grey wolves" organisation in drug smuggling and murder cases has also led to claims of arson on Greek forests by Sedat Bucak, a True Path Party (DYP) deputy, during a television interview.

    Bucak, the only survivor in the Susurluk accident, said Abdullah Catli - one of three individuals killed in the incident - had participated in arsons on Greek forests. On the following day the nationalist publication "Yeni Safak" came out with a headlin e reading "We burned Rhodes", but copies of the newspaper were destroyed in a suspicious fire that hit its offices the same day.

    Bucak is the leader of an anti-Kurdish militia group which recruits thousands of civil guards in the country's southeast. The shadowy figure is considered well-connected and informed on activities of special forces, with which he cooperates closely, accord ing to reports.

    Torching of forests in predominantly Kurdish areas of southeastern Turkey is alleged to be one of the methods used by Turkish special forces to flush out Kurdish separatists and to force civilians to abandon their villages.

    According to reports, Greek authorities have gathered evidence leading to the conclusion that many of the fires which destroyed forests on Greek islands were not simply the result of arson, but of sabotage operations carried out by specially t rained forces.

    Kaklamanis meets with Russian counterpart Zelezniev

    The Greek and Russian Parliament Presidents, Apostolos Kaklamanis and Gennadi Zelezniev, respectively, yesterday affirmed an identity of views on important issues between the two countries, as well as their willingness for even closer and more productive relations.

    Both sides also expressed satisfaction with the very good relations between the two parliaments and cooperation of delegations in international organisations.

    Regarding economic relations, both sides noted a will to proceed at a faster pace with the natural gas project, the proposed Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and an aluminum plant.

    NATO, former Warsaw Pact officers meet in Thessaloniki

    High-ranking NATO and former Warsaw Pact country officers met behind closed doors Tuesday and yesterday in Thessaloniki to exchange views on issues regarding defence cooperation and peace in southeastern Europe.

    Sources said discussion also included the issues of a NATO regional headquarters in Greece, and a rapid deployment force planned to be based in Thessaloniki.

    Alexander the Great Exhibition in New York

    An exhibition entitled "From Pella to Alexandria: Marks of a Civilisation", was opened in Fordham University recently by archaeology professor Dimitris Pandermalis.

    Prof. Pandermalis spoke of the determining presence of Alexander the Great in Egypt and referred to Alexandria as the "the first city of the vision for a Hellenic ecumenical presence, with the possibility of co-existence between Greeks and Egyptians."

    Chief of Staff to visit Bulgaria next week

    The Chief of the National Defence General Staff, Lieutenant-General (Air) Athanasios Tzoganis, will pay an official visit to Bulgaria from December 2- 4 at the inviation of his Bulgarian counterpart General Tsvetan Bladenov Totomirov, it was announced yest erday.

    During his stay in the neighbouring country, Lt.-Gen. Tzoganis will have talks with the political and military leadership of the Bulgarian defence ministry on issues of mutual interest in the defence sector.

    In addition, he will sign the programme for bilateral military cooperation for 1997 and visit a number of military units and installations.

    Papoutsis initiative aims to outlaw 'sex tourism'

    The European Commission has sent a letter to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers proposing a series of measures against sex tourism.

    The letter was sent at the initiative of EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis who said that sexual abuse of children in third countries was unacceptable and linked to tourism.

    "I believe it is time to react and take careful and responsible action," Mr. Papoutsis said.

    Proposed EU action calls for the mobilisation of the member-states and the creation of a common front to battle sex tourism.

    Balkan women meet in Thessaloniki to discuss problems

    A two-day conference bringing together women from all Balkan countries to discuss the status and problems of women in Balkan countries will be held in Thessaloniki over the weekend. The meeting, organised by the Women's Section of the Coalition of the Lef t and Progress party, will focus on democratisation procedures and the participation of women in decision- making centres in the Balkan peninsula.

    It is also scheduled to discuss "peace, security, cooperation, viable development and the role of women." Delegations from Croatia, Montenegro, Moldova, FYROM, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Turkey and Cyprus are taking part in the meeting.

    SEB calls proposed new taxes on businesses a 'counter-incentive'

    Federation of Greek Industry (SEB) President Iason Stratos said yesterday that an increase in taxation for businesses constitutes a counter-incentive for attracting capital, adding that he did not see a bold enough policy regarding denationalisations and privatisations.

    Commenting on the government's tax settlements, Mr. Stratos said an agreement has been reached on the issue of tax exemptions lacking a developmental or social character.

    It appears that industry disagrees with the taxation of land and building sites used by industrial enterprises, as well as with taxation for the transfer of shares of enterprises which are not registered with the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Ships stranded at Piraeus as seamen join strike

    No vessels will be leaving Piraeus or any other port in the prefecture of Attica today following the seamen's decision to join the 24-hour general strike organised by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Supreme Ad minstrative Council (ADEDY).

    The seamen's strike will begin at 6.00 this morning and end at 06.00 the following day.

    Piraeus dockworkers have already stated their intention to participate in the general strike.

    One of the main demands of the unions is that the government index-link tax brackets to inflation.

    Chinese silk experts visit Evros

    Chinese silk experts began a two-day visit yesterday to Soufli, Evros, within the framework of cooperation between the National Foundation of Agricultural Research (EThIAGE) and the Chinese State Research and Technology Committee.

    The two organisations have also signed agreements for joint research programmes in the silk production sector in Thrace, as well as for new varieties of cotton and for the production of mushrooms. A meeting was held in Soufli between the Chinese delegation, EThIAGE officials and silk cooperative organisations to examine issues related to the development of silk production in the region.

    Pachtas confident EU fund absorption will be good next year

    "1997 will be a year in which the absorption of European Union funds will take off," National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas said yesterday.

    In 1996, for the first time Greece will be very near to 100 per cent with respect to commitments.

    "Our forecast is that the figure will be approximately 90 per cent nationwide for the 13 Regional Programmes and the 17 sector programmes of the various ministries," Mr. Pachtas told reporters shortly before a meeting on the regional programmes.

    With regard to inflows, Mr. Pachtas said, 1996 will be the first year for some time that not only will the target of 100 per cent be attained "but there will furthermore be over-absorption, that is, the target of approximately 600 billion drachmas which is expected to enter the country from the EU by the end of the year will be surpassed."

    The Federation of Exporters of Northern Greece (SEBE) is preparing a study on the repercussions of the "hard drachma" policy on the competitiveness of Greek exports, in an effort to gauge the issue for the first time.

    SEBE believes that "since the government's monetary and exchange policy will move in the same direction in 1997, as it was made known by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, exports enterprises, and particularly those dealing with traditional markets in central Europe, are faced with the danger of their presence shrinking further."

    The study on the consequences of the hard drachma is expected to be completed in about a month and its results will be announced in January.

    WEATHER

    Sunny to partly cloudy in most parts of the country. Same for Athens where temperatures will range from 10-17C and in Thessaloniki from 6-13C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)

    U.S. dlr 238.001, Can. dlr.177.270, Australian dlr. 193.142, Pound sterling 399.082, Irish punt 399.776, Cyprus pd 515.840, French franc 46.068, Swiss franc 184.319 Belgian franc 7.572, German mark 156.002, Finnish mark 51.822, Dutch guilder 139.049, Danish Kr. 40.642, Swedish Kr. 35.692, Norwegian Kr. 37.174, Austrian Sh. 22.173, Italian lira (100) 15.717, Yen (100) 209.937, Spanish Peseta 1.854, Portuguese Escudo 1.545.

    (C.E.)


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