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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-07-11

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 11/07/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Prime Minister briefs Cabinet on Madrid accord
  • Simitis stresses determination to proceed with modernisation
  • Demirel comments on Greek-Turkish communique
  • PASOK deputies criticise the communique
  • Varied reactions continue from the opposition
  • Greek, Turkish trade confederations laud Madrid communique
  • Turkish warplanes again infringe Athens FIR
  • Cyprus solution a prerequisite for Greek-Turkish normalisation
  • Greece to coordinate business drive in the Balkans
  • Wholesale prices slide to 2.6 pct yr/yr in May
  • Helexpo to hold electronics exhibition in Thessaloniki
  • Government unveils package of measures to combat unemployment
  • Olympic Airways fleet renewal approved
  • Antenna TV station fined 100 million drachmas
  • Ferries collide in fog near Corfu
  • Illegal immigrants, boat crew arrested
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Prime Minister briefs Cabinet on Madrid accord

Prime Minister Costas Simitis briefed the Cabinet on the joint communique signed in Madrid between Greece and Turkey concerning relations between the two countries during a four-and-a-half hour meeting today.

Simitis told reporters that ''everything went very well'', noting unanimity on ''what was decided''.

The premier said he had explained in detail the policy followed in Madrid, adding that it simply marked ''the beginning of a path which will be very long and difficult''.

All the ministers attending the meeting had the opportunity to express their views on the communique, Simitis said.

Echoing the premier's comments, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos also said ''everything went well'' and that there had been no objections.

The communique was issued after talks between Simitis and Turkish President Suleyman Demirel on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid on Tuesday.

Simitis has described the communique as a document of principles which would govern relations between Greece and Turkey.

Speaking to reporters meanwhile in Thessaloniki, Interior Undersecretary Tassos Mandelis said that those who had expressed disagreement with the Madrid communique would eventually be convinced of its importance.

Mandelis said the agreement served the country's interests and reaffirmed Greece's objectives with respect to following ''an aggressive foreign policy which highlights our country's role in establishing peace in the region and creating conditions for constructive cooperation with neighbouring states''.

Commenting on criticism of the communique voiced in Greece, even within the ruling PASOK party, Mandelis said ''in all parties and at all times, some remain further behind, afraid of anything new''.

''It is only natural that such phenomena occur. Within a democracy they are confronted with sound arguments and dialogue,'' Mandelis said.

Simitis stresses determination to proceed with modernisation

In an article published in the first anniversary edition of ANA's monthly English-language magazine "Hermes-Greece Today", Prime Minister Costas Simitis emphasises the government's determination to "proceed with resolve" in modernising the country.

Mr. Simitis said this policy had already led the ruling PASOK party to "clash even with aspects of its own political tradition and culture, overcoming the fear of political cost and without succumbing to the sirens of easy and unreasonable giveaways and political patronage," Mr. Simitis wrote in the July issue of "Hermes."

The government's responsibility, he said, lies with "the thousands of citizens who seek a new political vision, radical reform and a realistic policy that will bring the country closer to the future".

The prime minister called for an end of "the Greece of bribes, kickbacks and pay-offs...of interrelated self-interests, political patronage system, of fiefdoms and preservation of privileges".

There was, he said, a "different Greece, of people who labour, struggle and create: the farmers who have turned to more competitive and productive crops, the business people who have boldly shattered the tradition of state protectionism and have dynamic ally and successfully entered international competition, the forces in the country's universities implementing pioneering research programmes, the unexploited forces in public administration who could work wonders but were asphyxiating within the current bureaucratic framework, the trade unionists whose labour policy and political speech were in tune with the European labour movement's most advanced thinking and practices."

Mr. Simitis called for a "battle with appropriate weapons," by abandoning outdated methods of thinking and planning new strategies demanded by this new era."

"We must proceed with large-scale structural changes that contribute to the development of competitiveness and the country's evolution, changes that will address the system's weaknesses," he explained.

The government's goal was to build a strong Greece, "a Greece where both economic indicators and individuals prosper, a Greece which commands the respect of friends and foes alike."

A strong Greece in the 21st century was not only the responsibility of the government but an issue for all Greeks, he added, concluding:

Demirel comments on Greek-Turkish communique

In a statement on Wednesday night upon his return to Ankara from the NATO summit in Madrid, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel referred to the joint communique issued and to his meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

"In the meeting we had with the prime minister of Greece and the foreign ministers of the two countries, we communicated our consent for a rapprochement in views on a basis which will develop Greek-Turkish relations, and we are viewing with satisfaction the role played by the United States in carrying out the meeting between the two ministers," Mr. Demirel said.

PASOK deputies criticise the communique

Twenty-two deputies from the ruling PASOK party yesterday expressed strong reservations about the joint Greek-Turkish communique signed in Madrid on Tuesday, claiming that through it "we are gradually slipping into choices that result in recognition of Turkish claims, legalisation of Ankara's expansionistic status and an expiation of its policies".

In an announcement, the 22 deputies said the joint communique was a product of high-level Greek-Turkish dialogue, despite assurances to the contrary.

They noted that they were not sharing the responsibilities of those developments and that the issue should be discussed at party organisations.

Varied reactions continue from the opposition

Main opposition New Democracy presented differing reactions on the signing, with ND leader Costas Karamanlis having said the communique "justifiably gave rise to questions and concerns" on Wednesday.

Yesterday, however, the ND leader attacked the government over what he termed was a "surprise process" that was followed and its "unacceptable silence", leading to a communique that "raises very serious concern".

ND honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis said that the outcome of this latest effort to normalise Greek-Turkish relations would depend on developments in the Cyprus issue.

"Turkey has to realise that unless the Cyprus issue is not resolved in a just, viable and feasible way, Greek-Turkish relations will never be normalised," said Mr. Mitsotakis.

Coalition of the Left and Progress official Nikos Bistis told a meeting yesterday in Irakleio, Crete that the communique was a step forward, but urged the government to avoid making surprise moves.

"Major decisions in Greek-Turkish relations demand a broader consensus, which presuppose a clear and declared strategy," he said.

Greek, Turkish trade confederations laud Madrid communique

The two major trade union confederations of Greece and Turkey, GSEE and TURK-IS, respectively, said they believe the recent Madrid communique between the two countries could further develop relations to benefit both countries' workers.

A joint communique by the two unions stressed that "the establishment of a climate of friendship and cooperation between the two countries would contribute to their economic development", since the huge amounts spent by both countries on armaments could be rechanelled to productive and peaceful investments.

The board of TURK-IS is currently in Athens on an official visit and has already had a number of meetings with GSEE officials. The Greek and Turkish trade unionists also decided to mobilise their forces in order to improve Balkan cooperation between trade unions, as well as to organise the next Interbalkan Conference in Turkey.

Turkish warplanes again infringe Athens FIR

Turkish warplanes infringed Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) regulations on four occasions yesterday, while a violation of Greek airspace was also recorded.

According to reports, four two-plane formations of Turkish F-4 "Phantom" fighters were intercepted by Hellenic Air Force fighters, with five engagements ensuing.

The violation and the infringements took place in the airspace between Lesvos and Hios.

Cyprus solution a prerequisite for Greek-Turkish normalisation

Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis told the Cyprus Radio (CyBC) yesterday that a solution of the Cyprus issue was a prerequisite for a normalisation of relations between Greece and Turkey.

The Greek foreign undersecretary said Greece backed the efforts by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for a Cyprus solution. He stressed, however, that the basic elements in such a solution that Greece was expecting to see were one sovereingty, the withdrawal of Turkish occupying forces from northern Cyprus and a consolidation of human rights and legality according to European Union standards.

Greece to coordinate business drive in the Balkans

Greece plans to set up an agency to boost domestic exports and investments in southeastern Europe that will, for the first time, coordinate activities by the state and the private sector. The proposal by the Federation of Greek Industry (SEV) to bring the two sides together and promote business in eastern Europe and the Balkans was endorsed at a meeting yesterday called to discuss better support for Greek firms active in the region.

Outlining the proposal, SEV's president Iason Stratos and board director Andreas Kanellopoulos said the new agency should survey market needs, process the data, and then make it easily available to companies.

The two officials said the agency would tackle institutional, political and operational hitches, including coordinating demands by Greek firms to the region's authorities.

The greatest stumbling blocks to doing business in the Balkans were a lack of reliable information on technical assistance and difficulties in making contacts, the officials said.

The agency also could encourage Greek diplomats in southeast European countries to adopt a more aggressive policy of promoting Greek enterprises, they said.

Wholesale prices slide to 2.6 pct yr/yr in May

Greek wholesale prices rose 0.5 percent in May from the previous month against a 0.3 percent month-on-month rise in the corresponding month last year, the National Statistics Service said.

Wholesale inflation fell substantially to 2.6 percent year-on-year in May from 6.9 percent the same month last year.

On average, wholesale prices rose 2.8 percent in the first five months of 1997. They were 6.7 percent higher than the same period in 1996.

Helexpo to hold electronics exhibition in Thessaloniki

Helexpo will organise a third annual electronics fair on the sidelines of the annual international trade fair held in Thessaloniki every September. Three pavilions at Helexpo will house 80 electronics firms that have so far registered, which aims at attra cting the interest of Greek, Balkan, and central and eastern European firms.

Helexpo will hold other specialised exhibitions along the annual September one, such as companies dealing in construction and aluminium.

Government unveils package of measures to combat unemployment

Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou announced several measures yesterday to increase employment and combat joblessness.

He added that unemployment among young people amounts to 28 per cent, while the longterm unemployed constitute 51.3 per cent of the total number of unemployed, whereas women total 58 per cent of the jobless rate in Greece - compared to 50 per cent of th e total number of unemployed in the European Union.

Mr. Papaioannou, who was speaking at a conference on "Active Employment Policies", said 1.5 trillion drachmas would be provided over the next three years 1997-1999 for structural interventions in the sectors of employment, training and professional orientation.

Labour Undersecretary Christos Protopapas announced that as of February 1998 a mechanism for registering the unemployed, providing employment coupons and registering needs in jobs would be ready at OAED to facilitate the promotion of unemployed people in suitable jobs without difficulties and delays.

Olympic Airways fleet renewal approved

State-owned Olympic Airways was given the green light yesterday for restructuring, after a decision was taken during a meeting between National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and OA's board.

About US $378 million will be allocated for the company's restructure.

In the first phase, OA plans to purchase four Boeing 737s, with the option to buy four more, as well as two Airbus jetliners, with the purchase option of two more.

It was also decided that planning for OA's eventual relocation to the new Athens airport at Spata should be completed by September.

Antenna TV station fined 100 million drachmas

The private television station Antenna was fined yesterday 100 million drachmas and ordered to suspend its programming for 10 minutes in the afternoon for five consecutive days.

The National Council of Radio and Television (ERS) reprimanded the station over allegations featured in one of its afternoon zone "reality" talk show programmes, entitled "Kentri".

The show was blamed for causing a man to commit suicide last month, following reports aired on the programme insinuated that he had molested his teenage daughter.

The fine must be signed by the press minister and published in the Government Gazette before being implemented .

Ferries collide in fog near Corfu

Two car and passenger ferries collided early today off the islet of Vido near Corfu due to thick fog, causing minor damage to both vessels but no injuries among the passengers and crew.

The ''Athens Express'' was sailing from Corfu to Italy with 630 passengers and 196 vehicles, while the Cyprus-flagged ''Medea II'' was on its way from Igoumenitsa to Italy, via Corfu, carrying 191 passengers and 40 vehicles.

Both vessels sailed into Corfu harbour and they will not be given permission to depart until a thorough inspection has been carried out to ascertain their seaworthiness.

Illegal immigrants, boat crew arrested

After a long sea chase and exchange of fire, the coastguard managed to stop an 11-metre motor yacht which according to sources took the 64 Iraqis to Samos.

Coastguard officers are currently questioning the captain of the vessel, whose name and nationality have not been released.

The Iraqis are currently being detained at Samos police station and will appear before a public prosecutor on the island later today.

WEATHER

Fine weather will prevail in most parts of the country today. Local clouds in central and northern Greece with possible intermittent rain in the north in the afternoon. Winds variable, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with only a few clouds in the afternoon and temperatures between 21-35C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 20-32C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 274.070 Pound sterling 462.272 Cyprus pd 530.720 French franc 46.215 Swiss franc 188.535 German mark 156.220 Italian lira (100) 15.987 Yen (100) 242.584 Canadian dlr. 199.293 Australian dlr. 203.162 Irish Punt 419.041 Belgian franc 7.568 Finnish mark 52.626 Dutch guilder 138.701 Danish kr. 41.003 Swedish kr. 35.605 Norwegian kr. 37.343 Austrian sch. 22.193 Spanish peseta 1.848 Port. Escudo 1.546

(M.S.)


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