Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-12-10
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 10/12/1997 (ANA)
- Turkish ship sinks off Kymi, one missing
- Police arrest 47 illegal immigrants
- Turkish fighters violate Athens FIR
- Gov't unworried by opinion poll results
- Left Coalition begins conference on Cyprus
- US envoys comments on economy not an issue
- Greeks flock to sit for civil service entry exams
- PM: Greece determined to enter EMU by 2002
- Karamanlis attacks gov't
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Turkish ship sinks off Kymi, one missing
Coast Guard ships and helicopters have launched a search and rescue
operation for a Turkish seaman reported missing after the sinking of a
Turkish-flagged cargo ship in Kymi, off the island of Evia early today.
Piraeus harbour authorities said that 11 other crew members of the 996-ton
"S. Ugurlu" were picked up by a nearby trawler, which saw the Turkish
ship's flares, and were safe at Kymi.
The vessel, with a cargo of magnesium ore, was on its way from Thessaloniki
Police arrest 47 illegal immigrants
An undentified man escaped after abandoning a stolen truck in which he was
transporting 47 Albanians, all illegal immigrants, from the border to
The man, who fled on foot after spotting a police check-point on the
Ioannina-Konitsa road, had been paid 55,000 drachmas by each of the
Albanians, all of whom have been deported.
Turkish fighters violate Athens FIR
Six pairs of Turkish F-16 fighter planes infringed the Athens Flight
Information Region (FIR) over the Aegean this morning, Defence Ministry
The sources said the six pairs of Turkish F-16s entered Greek airspace at
9:30 a.m. over the islands of Lesvos, the northern Sporades and 25 miles
south of Kassandra, without submitting flight plans, thus infringing air
In all instances, the Turkish jetfighters were intercepted by Greek
Earlier, the Turkish fighter planes and twice violated Greek national
airspace over the region of Aghios Efstratios, near Lesvos, the sources
Gov't unworried by opinion poll results
An MRB opinion poll released today gave cause for neither euphoria nor
displeasure on the part of the government, its spokesman Dimitris Reppas
The poll, carried out on behalf of Mega television, showed the ruling PASOK
party to be five points behind the main opposition New Democracy party.
Support for Simitis himself had dropped to 36.5 percent. The highest
approval rating was for Athens Mayor Dimitris Avrampoulos at 72.3%.
Reppas said the only thing that concerned the government was to resolve the
problems of the Greek people and that is why it had been voted into power
He noted that Simitis had been elected prime minister when PASOK had been
trailing ND in the opinion polls by 10 points.
Left Coalition begins conference on Cyprus
Cyprus' prospects for accession to the European Union, the U.S. initiative
on the Cyprus problem and the individual aspects of the political problem
were the focus of today's opening session of a conference organised by the
Coalition of the Left and Progress at the Zappion Mansion.
Coalition president Nikos Konstantopoulos opened the two-day conference
titled "The Cyprus problem: Prospect of solution?", which is being attended
by political personalities, representatives of Greek Cypriot and Turkish
Cypriot parties and academics.
Konstantopoulos said that the new developments -- Cyprus' course towards EU
accession and the new NATO structure -- created new opportunities, but he
also expressed hope that they woul dnot also create new tension that could
prospectively lead to definitive partition of the island republic.
He said 1998, after the presidential elections in Cyprus, would be a
critical year for the Cyprus issue and, in the time remaining, the two
communities on the island should try to create conditions for dialogue
aiming at a solution of the problem.
Cyprus Ambassador in Athens Haralambos Christophorou agreed that 1998 would
be a crucial year for the Cyprus issue, and expressed the Nicosia
government's desire to collaborate for a solution to the political problem,
calling on the Turkish side to follow suit. He also said the U.S.
initiative was expected to intensify after the Cypriot elections.
Cyprus MP Nikos Katsourides, member of the AKEL political bureau and
director of Haravghi newspaper, endorsed a bizonal, bicommunal federation
founded on sovereignty, ensuring refugees the right to return to their
homes, and respect of human rights.
He said the present system of guarantees would not work in the future, and
proposed its expansion.
Katsourides expressed reservations on the EU policy on Cyprus, saying the
European Union was not interested so much in whether Cyprus became a member
or in what solution was given to the Cyprus problem but was primarily
concerned for reasons of stability in the region. He also observed a
turnabout in the EU stance towards the Turkish Cypriots, whome he said it
in essence recognised as a second state entity.
Mehmet Ali Talat, leader of the Republican Turkish party of Cyprus rejected
the idea of unification of the Turkish Cypriot community with Turkey and of
the Greek Turkish community with Greece as a solution.
He also rejected partition as a solution to the political problem, and
implied that he favoured Cyprus' European orientation, but with the equal
participation of the Turkish Cypriots with the reasoning that "it is not
easy for the one (Greek Cypriots) to represent the other (Turkish
Talat warned that the present status quo was dangerous for Cyprus, and
endorsed a bizonal, bicommunal federation, adding that the issue of
sovereignty was open to discussion.
He further supported the inclusion of Turkey in a proposed European
Conference, clearly indicating that he disagreed with Greece's veto on the
US envoys comments on economy not an issue
Comments made by new US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns during a
meeting with Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday
were "not a problem", said government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.
Burns said the US "fully supported Greece's efforts to modernise its
"There is nothing reprehensible about praising the government's economic
policy even if that praise comes from a foreign government. No political
conclusions should be drawn from such statements," he said.
Greeks flock to sit for civil service entry exams
Some 117,316 Greeks have applied to sit for entry to the civil service in
nationwide exams to be held early next year, according to an announcement
The overwhelming response for the 2,353 positions were centred mainly on
the 769 positions in secondary education, for which 96,325 people have
applied. Only one in 125 candidates will succeed in getting the much-
Some 13,291 applications were submitted for 1,022 positions in tertiary
education and 7,700 for 562 openings in technical education.
According to figures from Thessaloniki, three in four candidates for the
104 positions in the Thessaloniki prefecture are women.
Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy criticised the government for not
practicing what it preached, saying the government's commitment to
replacing every five departing civil servants with one new appointment was
not being followed.
ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said figures showed that appointments in
the second half of 1997 had totalled 3,228 and departures 4,776 - in other
words, a ratio of 1:1.47 and 1:5.
"With this irresponsible and unscrupulous policy, the Greek economy will
not coverge with the European Union," Spiliotopoulos said.
PM: Greece determined to enter EMU by 2002
Greece is determined to enter European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) by
the date of the introduction of the Euro, that is, January 1, 2002 at the
latest, and negotiate hard to protect its interests, but also to play a
prominent role with a positive contribution to the evolution of the EU,
Prime Minister Costas Simitis told Parliament last night during a special
debate on European convergence issues.
The prime minister said his government's basic vision was of a strong
Greece inexorably linked with a strong Europe of the peoples, and not
simply of the strong nations.
Greece's priorities were determined by:
The Turkish threat and the instability in the Middle East necessitated
the safeguarding of the country's vital interests and the consolidation of
peace and security.
A competitive economy and sustainable development.
Enlargement of the Union and cooperation with those countries in the
Balkans and eastern Europe wishing to participate in the building of a new
More democracy and participation, transparency and efficiency.
He stressed that as he found in his recent meetings with counterparts in
London and Paris, Greece's partners were supportive of its efforts to
Regarding the issue of the proposed, French-inspired, European Conference,
with the participation of the 15 member-states, 11 prospective members and
Turkey, Mr. Simitis said the content of the conference was unclear, as the
issues for discussion had not been determined, and, therefore, Greece
considered it unnecessary.
He reiterated that Turkey had no right to raise objections to another
country's entry to the EU, a reference to Cyprus.
Karamanlis attacks gov't
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis attacked the
government over its policies concerning the economy and foreign affairs and
termed Prime Minister Costas Simitis a "Prime Minister of taxes."
In his address, Mr. Karamanlis said the sole convergence criteria Greece
had was the taxation policy applied by the government, adding that it has
imposed 49 taxes and 13 new taxes which are included in the state
"The biggest lie you have said is that no new taxes will be imposed. The
convergence you are trying to achieve is with accounting alchemy. Leniently
speaking, the divergence from the budget this year will amount to 600
billion drachmas. You are failing even if you achieve nominal convergence,"
Mr. Karamanlis spoke of the inadequate absorption of European Union funds
and lost opportunities and criticised the government of unprecedented
indifference against the agricultural population which is creating, as he
said, the danger of desolation for the Greek countryside.
Referring to EU funds, Mr. Karamanlis said the situation "is tragic and
that while two thirds of the time at our disposal has passed only a third
of the second community support framework has been absorbed".
Mr. Karamanlis also focused on national issues and accused the prime
minister of submissiveness, adding that due to this policy Greece had been
isolated and not Turkey.
"Either you must change policy or Greece its government," he said.
Cloudiness with mild northerly winds in most parts of Greece today with a
slight rise in temperatures. Athens will be partly cloudy with spells of
sunshine and temperatures between 5-14C. Same in Thessaloniki with
temperatures from 2-11C.
Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 278.564
Pound sterling 458.403 Cyprus pd 531.514
French franc 46.557 Swiss franc 191.307
German mark 155.813 Italian lira (100) 15.914
Yen (100) 214.163 Canadian dlr. 195.999
Australian dlr. 186.223 Irish Punt 404.538
Belgian franc 7.553 Finnish mark 51.608
Dutch guilder 138.270 Danish kr. 40.920
Swedish kr. 35.676 Norwegian kr. 38.547
Austrian sch. 22.141 Spanish peseta 1.843
Port. Escudo 1.525