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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-08-23

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, 23/08/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece, FYROM to begin unofficial culture cooperation
  • Van den Broek slams Denktash
  • Niles confident over improvement in Greek-Turkish relations
  • Simitis chairs PASOK political secretariat meeting
  • Tougher measures to combat drink driving
  • Arab League General Secretary to visit
  • Greek-Australian researcher's success
  • Shipowner Ventouris arrested in child custody battle
  • Retired Albanian army officer arrested for child labour trafficking
  • Controversial education bill tabled in Parliament
  • Slight damage from earthquakes in Kozani, Grevena
  • European congress on rivers opens in Alexandroupoli
  • Tzoumakas claims torched Seikh Sou forest will be restored
  • Greek stocks shed 1.63 pct, sink below 1,600 pts
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece, FYROM to begin unofficial culture cooperation

The Culture Ministers of Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said on Saturday thay intended to launch a lasting and systematic, yet unofficial cooperation in the sector of cultural creativity between the two countries.

Evangelos Venizelos and Slobodan Unkofski, culture ministers of Greece and FYROM respectively, made the joint statement on the fringes of the seventh Prespian 97 cultural festival which they had been invited to attend.

"Culture is the most useful means to create common understanding in the world," Venizelos said.

"It is not a means for national propaganda but a field for cooperation, peace and mutual understanding," he added.

Mr. Unkofski said he had observed "substantial changes" in both countries' policies, adding that "we are both open to continuing communication between the two peoples who share so much in common."

"It will take a long time to solve the name question," FYROM's culture minister said.

"But this should not mean that cultural cooperation should not begin between the two countries,"he added.

Greece and FYROM are locked in an argument over the term Macedonia.

Greece opposes the use of the name Macedonia or its derivative by Skopje on the grounds that it harbors territorial designs against its northern region of the same name.

Van den Broek slams Denktash

EU Commissioner for external relations Hans Van den Broek has accused Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash of setting preconditions on talks about Cyprus' future.

In a statement yesterday, Mr. Van den Broek expressed "deep concern" following the "disappointing outcome" of the second round of UN-led direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash.

He said the preconditions set by Mr. Denktash regarding Cyprus' EU accession were unacceptable, adding that negotiations with Nicosia would go ahead as planned in early 1998.

The Commissioner responsible for relations with Cyprus and Turkey also criticised the signing of an "association agreement" between Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state, which threatens partial annexation of the Turkish-occupied areas if accession negotiations go ahead with the legal government of Cyprus, as not being conducive to creating the right negotiating climate.

Niles confident over improvement in Greek-Turkish relations

US ambassador in Athens Thomas Niles said yesterday that "the process which began in Madrid is alive, and we believe that progress will continue", in referring to the most recent developments in Greek-Turkish relations.

Mr. Niles made the statements to reporters after accompanying a visiting delegation of US Congressmen for talks with main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, focusing on the Cyprus problem and Greek- Turkish relations. "There will be problems along the way. No one believed that this process would be easy and without difficulties, nor that the problems would automatically be resolved," he said.

On the Cyprus problem, the US ambassador said Washington had a clear commitment and would work for a settlement.

"Richard Holbrooke will now act as President Clinton's special envoy and we shall continue to work to find ways so as to consolidate the understanding attained in Madrid. You must be prepared for the problems which will arise throughout the process, as we are," Mr. Niles said.

He is scheduled to turn over his post as ambassador to former US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns on Sept. 27.

Earlier, the head of the visiting US House of Representatives delegation expressed concern over the Cyprus issue and the Aegean.

"We are concerned with tensions in the Aegean and the Cyprus issue, and are seeking a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem," Congressman Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) said after talks with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

Mr. Menendez is heading the delegation of US House of Representatives' Foreign Relations Committee members, who were briefed by Mr. Kaklamanis on Greek-Turkish relations and developments on the Cyprus issue.

Simitis chairs PASOK political secretariat meeting

Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired yesterday a five-hour meeting of ruling PASOK's political secretariat held with the participation of National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.

The meeting focused on the government's economic policy for 1998, developments in Greek-Turkish relations and the recent talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

The meeting also discussed the programme for compulsory mergers between municipalities and the reconstruction of the party.

The meeting was also attended by PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis, Interior Minister Alekos Papadopoulos, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

The political secretariat will reconvene on Monday.

Tougher measures to combat drink driving

The police have begun implementing tougher measures to combat drink driving, including the confiscation of cars on the spot.

Athens Public Prosecutor Anastasios Kanellopoulos yesterday ordered the traffic police to confiscate cars driven by drunk drivers.

The tougher measures follow a tragic accident earlier this week in which a 22-year-old girl ran down two women and injured one man as they were crossing the Athens-Sounion coast road outside a nightclub.

An alcotest showed that the driver was more than three times over the legal limit.

Traffic police last night confiscated eight cars after alcotests of the drivers proved positive. In one of the cases, a 25-year-old man had killed an 87-year-old woman as she was crossing the busy Katechaki ringroad.

Arab League General Secretary to visit

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis will meet with Arab League General Secretary, Abdel Meguid, on Monday.

During his stay in Athens, Mr. Meguid will also have talks with Parliament Vice President Panagiotis Kritikos.

Greek-Australian researcher's success

Research into the effects of a vaccine againt breast cancer developed by Greek-Australian Dr. Vasso Apostolopoulou has produced encouraging results in a tests carried out on 30 women in the state of Queensland, an ANA despatch from Melbourne said yesterday.

The Austin Research Institute, to which Dr. Apostolopoulou belongs, has announced that tests have begun in Melbourne on 50 men and women suffering from various forms of the disease, including not only cancer of the breast, ovaries and uterus, but lung, pancreas, prostate, bowel and other forms of cancer.

The current trials are expected to be completed within the next five years.

Shipowner Ventouris arrested in child custody battle

Pandemonium broke out in an Athens court yesterday morning after police arrested shipowner Georgios Ventouris, following allegations by his estranged wife Hara that he had kidnapped their three children and prevented her from seeing them.

A court has awarded custody of the children to their mother. However, Mr. Ventouris allegedly took the children and hid them. He appeared in court yesterday after making an appeal against the custody ruling, based on what he said was a secret report by several child psychologists at a public hospital.

The case was postponed to allow Ms Ventouris' lawyer to study the report. After the court session, police moved in to arrest Mr. Ventouris, whose bodyguards began to push away reporters and cameramen.

Mr. Ventouris will face a three-member misdemeanor court today, while he may request a customary three-day postponement. It remains to be seen whether the court will free him or continue to keep him in jail.

Representatives of the Women's Union of Greece, including Margaret Papandreou, were at the court to offer moral support to Ms Ventouris.

Retired Albanian army officer arrested for child labour trafficking

A retired Albanian army colonel was arrested by Patra Port Authority officials on charges of trafficking in child labour as he stepped off a passenger ferry arriving from Vlore, Albania.

Damaz Pavli, 44, was arrested late Thursday after disembarking in Patra accompanied by two 16-year-old boys, both of whom carried false papers claiming they were Pavli's sons.

The suspect, who authorities allege is one of the masterminds behind a child labour trafficking network, told the port officials he had come to Athens three times before, accompanying under-aged boys and girls whom he would deliver at various spots in Athens, mostly hotels. From there they would be picked up by their employers.

Controversial education bill tabled in Parliament

An education ministry bill, introducing several controversial changes, particularly in secondary and tertiary education, was tabled in Parliament yesterday.

The bill, among others, envisages abolition of entrance examinations for colleges and universities in 2001, as well as of the system of teaching appointments based on seniority in graduation.

The bill has sparked strong reactions, particularly among unemployed and unappointed educators, who have already held, and are planning further protest rallies during the Parliamentary debate and at the opening ceremonies of the international trade fai r in Thessaloniki in early September.

The teachers' union has left open the possibility of a strike at the start of the school year, and is planning an information campaign to brief parents and students.

Slight damage from earthquakes in Kozani, Grevena

Two earth tremors yesterday caused further minor damage to buildings in villages in Kozani and Grevena, northern Greece, which had been hit by the destructive 1995 quake.

The two tremors, measuring 4 and 4.6 on the Richter scale were recorded at 06.10 and 06.18 local time yesterday. Their epicentre was 295 kilometres northwest of Athens in the area of Kozani and Grevena.

Kozani Prefect Paschalis Mitliagas told the ANA that the tremors caused further minor damage to buildings - in twenty villages of Kozani and Grevena - which had not been repaired since the May 1995 earthquake.

Seismologists did not appear to be concerned by the latest tremors generated by the Rymnio fault, attributing them to normal post-seismic activity in the wake of the 1995 quake.

An earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale was recorded in the same region last Saturday.

European congress on rivers opens in Alexandroupoli

The European Congress of the Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GREEN) opened in Alexandroupoli yesterday under the aegis of the University of Thrace.

In opening remarks, National Economy Secretary General Apostolos Fotiadis conveyed a message by the national economy minister, saying the ministry would always remain supportive of initiatives that promote environmental education and sensitivity.

The GREEN Congress, which ends Monday, is being attended by more than 30 scientists and specialists in environmental education from around Europe, most of whom are coordinators of the project on a national level.

Tzoumakas claims torched Seikh Sou forest will be restored

Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas yesterday reiterated that the Seikh Sou forest in Thessaloniki, about half of which was burned in a recent fire, will retain its public character and that its area would be extended with compulsory purchases and re forestation programmes.

He made the statement after touring the area and in the course of a press conference, also attended by Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, who said he had signed a protocol suspending the issuing of building licences in the area, and that any under-construction structures would be automatically demolished.

Greek stocks shed 1.63 pct, sink below 1,600 pts

Greek equities came under strong selling pressure in the last trading session of the week driving the general index below the 1,600 mark.

Traders said the market looked vulnerable following the government's pledge to drastically cut public spending in 1998.

The general index closed 1.63 percent lower at 1,592.82 points to show a 3.22 percent loss on the week. Sector indices lost ground. Banks fell 1.74 percent, Leasing was 0.81 percent off, Insurance eased 0.66 percent, Investment dropped 1.66 percent, Industrials fell 1.37 percent, Construction was 1.96 percent off, Holding eased 1.36 percent and Miscellaneous eased 1.13 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.14 percent down.

Trading was moderate and turnover was 9.9 billion drachmas.

Broadly, declining issues led advancing ones by 144 to 51 with another 22 issues unchanged.

WEATHER

Mostly fair throughout Greece today except for some cloudiness and showers in the mainland, the Ionian and the northern Aegean Sea. Winds will be variable, light to strong, becoming gale force in the Aegean Sea. Sunny in Athens, turning cloudy towards the afternoon, with temperatures of 20-29C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 18- 27C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 284.099 Pound sterling 453.780 Cyprus pd 530.026 French franc 46.283 Swiss franc 188.381 German mark 155.833 Italian lira (100) 15.979 Yen (100) 242.604 Canadian dlr. 203.162 Australian dlr. 212.080 Irish Punt 415.648 Belgian franc 7.549 Finnish mark 52.209 Dutch guilder 138.419 Danish kr. 40.916 Swedish kr. 35.752 Norwegian kr. 37.383 Austrian sch. 22.142 Spanish peseta 1.848 Port. Escudo 1.538

(M.S.)


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