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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-04-06

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, 06/04/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greek, Turkish military chiefs meet
  • Polish president in Athens for talks
  • Gov't stands by Olympic Airways reform
  • Flight attendants call strike
  • New record on Athens bourse
  • Turk sentenced for immigrant smuggling
  • Consumer boycott on goods begins
  • New frigate for Greek navy
  • Three cars torched overnight
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greek, Turkish military chiefs meet

The Greek and Turkish chiefs of staff met today to exchange views on bilateral and military issues, ahead of the official start to the meeting of Western European Union (WEU) military chiefs.

Greece currently holds the organisation's six-month presidency.

Greek Chief of Staff Admiral Athanasios Tzoganis told reporters after the meeting that he and his Turkish counterpart, General Ismail Hakki Karadayi, also discussed issues pertaining to NATO and the WEU.

Karadayi told Turkish reporters that the meeting had been "productive" and both expressed their desire to hold similar meetings in the future at similar events.

Polish president in Athens for talks

Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski arrived in Athens today to begin a three-day official visit on the invitation of his Greek counterpart, Kostis Stephanopoulos.

Poland's desire to join European structures such as the European Union and NATO were the focus of the two president's talks this morning and a parallel meeting between the Polish and Greek delegations, which included the Greek foreign, economy, development and culture ministers.

Greece supports Poland in its attempt to join the EU.

President Stephanopoulos said he was unaware of reports that Greece would "block" Poland's accession to the EU in the event that Cyprus did not join. Greece desires Cyprus's entry to the Union and hopes there will be no problems, Stephanopoulos told reporters.

He also stressed that Greece was closely following the positive developments in the Polish economy and that Athens was assisting Warsaw in its effort to join Euro-Atlantic structures.

He said there was room for improvement in bilateral relations, particularly in the economic sector.

Kwasniewski expressed his country's gratitude for Greece's support of its NATO and EU bids, adding he hoped that all countries that were candidates for EU membership would succeed, including Cyprus.

He, too, stressed the need for closer bilateral relations in the economic and cultural sectors.

During his stay, Mr. Kwasniewski will attend a Greek-Polish Business Conference on ways of expanding economic relations between the two countries to be held in Athens.

The conference is sponsored by the Hellenic Organisation for Small and Medium Size Enterprises and Handicrafts (EOMMEH) and prominent Greek and Polish companies.

National economy minister Yannos Papantoniou and his Polish counterpart Janus Steinhof will also attend.

Discussions at the conference will focus on possible cooperation in the sectors of energy, telecommunications, defence, agriculture and foodstuffs, metals, clothing, tourism etc.

Gov't stands by Olympic Airways reform

The government today stood by its plans to reform ailing national carrier Olympic Airways, saying its legislation was "complete and effective and more than covered other proposals".

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters that there would be no change to the essence of the reforms contained in the bill, which is to be submitted to Parliament on Tuesday and voted on on Thursday.

He added that the government was open to considering "fruitful" proposals.

Reppas said a joint statement from six ruling PASOK deputies outlining their concerns over the current situation between government, management and workers at Olympic Airways "was an expression of concern" but "I do not understand how they are being considered to be in disagreement".

He stressed that there had to be a "common" stance of ruling party deputies and that they had to extend the message that everybody was concerned about how to rescue Olympic, which, he added, was not about to be closed down.

The ruling party said last week that it expected its deputies to support the government's bill when it came up for vote.

Asked whether the six believed the company would go bankrupt, Reppas replied: "If they believe that after the government's proposal the company will go bankrupt then they will be heading towards voting against the bill. I don't believe they mean any such thing".

He said the failure to follow the party line on the vote would be followed by "the specific consequences".

Flight attendants call strike

Olympic Airways flight attendants today said they were calling a 24-hour strike on Tuesday and Thursday this week, while Olympic Aviation flight attendants said they would also strike for 24 hours tomorrow, throwing both international and domestic flight schedules into chaos.

The announcement came at a news conference held by a number of Olympic Airways unions to outline their positions on the outcome of talks between them and the management, kick-started again on Thursday last week as a last chance at reaching some agreement before the government's bill on the ailing national carrier goes to Parliament.

Flight attendants claimed that the government's bill aimed at selling off the national carrier. They also criticised the company's management for failing to outline strategic targets and commercial policies and said that reducing cabin crew levels raised a wider issue of flight safety.

Their news conference was attended by representatives of the flight attendant unions at Sabena, Alitalia and Lufthansa as well as representatives of the international union of transport workers.

Workers added that a voluntary retirement programme introduced under a government and EU restructuring programme had led to the exodus of trained personnel on both a technical and cabin crew level.

New record on Athens bourse

Greek equities shot to a new record at the beginning of the week on the Athens Stock Exchange. The general index closed 3.48 percent higher at 2, 135.31 points, reflecting optimism over developments in a government plan to restructure Olympic Airways.

Traders said foreign investors remained active in blue chips. The Greek bourse, following the example of other European markets, shrugged off renewed financial turbulence in Asia.

National Bank of Greece ended at 38,890 drachmas, Ergobank at 24,200, Alpha Credit Bank at 25,120, Delta Dairy at 3,800, Titan Cement at 24,000, Intracom at 20,450 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 8, 100.

Turk sentenced for immigrant smuggling

A lower court on the island of Samos today sentenced a 53-year-old Turkish smuggler to 10 years imprisonment for disembarking 11 illegal immigrants on the island.

The court also imposed an 18 million dr. fine on Salim Ahmet, who together with another Turkish smuggler transported 11 Iraqis at dawn today on a remote beach on Samos.

The boat carrying seven men, two women and two children, all of Kurdish origin, ran aground in sand and the smugglers were unable to re-start the engine. The second smuggler escaped arrest by swimming out to Turkish trawlers nearby.

The Greek coast guard has arrested four Turkish smugglers for illegally transporting two groups of Iraqi Kurds to the island of Symi, police said today.

Three Turks were apprehended last night by a patrol on the island of Symi as they were unloading 19 Iraqi illegal immigrants-- 13 men, three women and three children.

The immigrants said they had paid 1,000 dollars each to the smugglers.

A short while later, another Turkish smuggler was arested as he was preparing to disembark 41 Iraqi illegal immigrants -- 12 men, 6 women and 14 children -- who had paid him 1,500 dollars each.

Consumer boycott on goods begins

Greek consumers today began a five-day boycott of meat and farm products this week in protest of the recent price hikes on the market that followed the drachma devaluation and disastrous storms that swept the country.

They were responding to a call by the Consumers' Institute (INKA), which said that the reduced demand was expected to force producers and merchants to reduce prices.

INKA chairman Haralambos Kouris said he believed the boycott "will achieve its goal if consumer participation exceeds 17 percent".

He said more than 1.5 million consumers "are facing problems due to the overpricing of foodstuffs", while a recent study also showed that the most expensive markets in the country were those on the islands of Rhodes, Corfu and Crete.

New frigate for Greek navy

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today attended the official ceremony to incorporate the sixth Standard frigate to join the Greek Navy, the "Koudouriotis".

The Greek ensign was raised on the frigate at a ceremony, held at a Dutch shipyard, late last year.

The Koundouriotis is the first frigate purchased from the Dutch navy.

"The strengthening of the Greek Navy and the strongest possible inter- sector cooperation are the necessary prerequisites for the most effective deterrent presence in the Aegean," Tsohatzopoulos said.

Three cars torched overnight

Three cars were set alight overnight in three separate instances, police reported today.

Police said a jeep was set alight in the suburb of Nea Kifissia at 1.30 a.m. this morning by an explosive device made up of five gas cannisters. The jeep was completely destroyed.

An hour later, in Pangrati, unidentified persons doused a van belonging to the Klimatherm company with petrol and set it alight.

The final incident occured shortly afterwards at approximately 3 a.m. when a passenger vehicle parked in the suburb of Pefki was torched. Police said the attackers had thrown a lit rag doused in petrol under the car.

Police said they were investigating all the incidents.

WEATHER

Fair weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today with scattered clouds in the mainland. Winds variable, light to moderate. Athens will be sunny with scattered clouds and temperatures from 10-25C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 8-25C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 318.730 British pound 530.859 Japanese Yen(100) 236.711 French franc 51.320 German mark 171.988 Italian lira (100) 17.442 Irish Punt 432.710 Belgian franc 8.337 Finnish mark 56.621 Dutch guilder 152.644 Danish kr. 45.134 Austrian sch. 24.428 Spanish peseta 2.027 Swedish kr. 39.759 Norwegian kr. 41.648 Swiss franc 208.012 Port. Escudo 1.678 AUS dollar 209.510 Can. dollar 224.132 Cyprus pound 591.232

(M.P.)


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