Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-04-09
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 09/04/1998 (ANA)
- Parliament approves OA bill
- November 17 claims responsibility for Citibank attack
- Strikes hits ports, transport
- Inflation up slightly as expected
- President to visit Cyprus
- Defence talks between Greece, Netherlands
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Parliament approves OA bill
Parliament today approved a controversial bill to restructure Olympic
Airways, Greece's ailing national carrier, as part of the government's
efforts to prepare for European Monetary Union.
The vote was 158 in favour and 124 against. One deputy abstained and 17
were absent from the 300-member parliament, in which the ruling socialist
PASOK party controls 159 seats.
The bill goes through a formal vote in Parliament later tonight.
The scourge of Olympic Airways and other public sector organisations has
been the lack of cooperation between management and trade unions, National
Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said during the debate.
Commenting on the agreement reached between OA management and workers,
Papantoniou said the government had reckoned on spending cuts at the
airline of 50 billion drachmas a year for the five-year duration of the
restructuring programme, but because it wanted "social consent and
cohesion", it had made certain changes which will result in savings of 42
billion drachmas a year.
"The government prefers to have 85 per cent with social agreement, rather
than 100 per cent and conflict," Papantoniou said, adding that OA workers
had accepted wage cuts totalling 5.5 billion drachma, a wage freeze and
flexible working hours.
Papantoniou said enterprises could not be modernised without the contribution
"OA will serve as an example for the other public utilities and organisations,
" he added.
Speaking after Papantoniou, Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis forecast
profits of 74.5 billion drachmas for OA over the next five years.
More specifically, he said, OA would show a profit of 9.7 billion drachmas
in 1998, 25.5 billion in 1999, 14.5 billion in 2000, 8.5 billion in 2001
and 16.5 billion in 2002.
Mantelis underlined that the 41.674 billion drachmas to be saved annually
by the company over the next five years was an issue of less importance
than the unimpeded continuation of flights and the labour peace secured
through the agreement with OA workers.
November 17 claims responsibility for Citibank attack
The elusive "November 17" terrorist organisation today claimed responsibility
for a rocket attack on an American Citibank branch on midnight Thursday and
a series of bombings of US interests in Greece over the past few months.
"We have decided to strike at American imperialism-nationalism which is
threatening our country's sovereign rights," the group said in an eight-
page letter sent to the Athens afternoon daily Eleftherotypia.
The Citibank branch in the Athens district of Kypseli was the group's
latests attack by a rocket which failed to explode causing only damage but
The urban guerrilla organisation which emerged in 1975, also accused the
Americans of being responsible for the Cyprus problem and the Turkish
claims in the Aegean.
Focusing mainly on "nationalism, patriotism and American imperialism," the
terrorist organisation also criticised the mass media which, it said,
"poured mockery on patriotism by presenting it as nationalism".
It also criticised the government's handling of the Imia islets crisis and
Greek-Turkish issues, but avoided direct threats against specific persons
The letter was found in a garbage bin in the Athens downtown district of
Koukaki after an unidentifed caller telephoned the newspaper.
The group also claimed responsibility for a spate of bomb attacks against
two McDonald's fast food restaurants and the offices of the American firms
General Motors and Crysler and those of the German firm Opel.
Strikes hits ports, transport
The main Greek port of Piraeus was deserted today as seamen and dockworkers
staged a 24-hour strike that halted passenger shipping and commercial
The Panhellenic Seamen's Federation joined a one-day nationwide strike in
protest at a government bill to revitalise Olympic Airways and plans to
privatise, merge or abolish state firms and organisations.
The nationwide stoppage that disrupted public services, banks and transport
was called by the civil servants union and the General Confederation of
Greek Labour, which represents nearly one million workers.
Dockworkers staged the second day of a 48-hour strike against a government
scheme to privatise the country's two major ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki.
Strikers rallied at the port city's labour centre and marched to the
merchant marine ministry, also located in Piraeus.
The seamen's stoppage ends at 0600 local time on Friday.
Inflation up slightly as expected
Greek consumer price inflation rose to 4.6 percent year-on-year in March
from 4.3 percent the previous month, the National Statistics Service (NSS)
The consumer price index rose 2.5 percent on a monthly basis against a 2.2
percent rise in the corresponding month last year.
GNSS said that the rise in inflation was expected following the drachma's
devaluation by 14 percent in March, which was linked to entry into the
European Union's exchange rate mechanism.
Inflation was expected to continue rising in April before resuming its
downward trend in May.
A 6.0-7.0 percent rise in car prices and some foodstuffs were the main
factors behind the March increase.
President to visit Cyprus
President Kostis Stephanopoulos will pay an official visit to Cyprus from
June 25-28 at the invitation of his Cypriot counterpart Glafcos Clerides,
his press office announced here today.
Defence talks between Greece, Netherlands
National Defence Undersecretary Dimitris Apostolakis had talks today with
his Dutch counterpart J.C. Gmelich Meijling on bilateral and armaments
According to defence ministry sources, the Netherlands is interested in
selling a certain class of submarine to Greece.
Also examined at today's meeting was the possibility of cooperation between
the defence industries of the two countries.
After the talks, it was announced that commencing in the summer, the
Netherlands will participate in the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus with
Replying to reporters' questions on the issue of the moratorium on the
holding of military exercises in the Aegean by Greece and Turkey during the
summer months, Apostolakis said Athens and Ankara had each put forward a
Greece is proposing that the present two-month moratorium is extended so as
to cover the period June 15 - September 15, Apostolakis said, while Turkey
wants all of September to be included.
Scattered clouds throughout Greece today with the possibility of rain in
the north, western and central regions in the evening. Winds southerly,
moderate to strong. Athens will be sunny with a few clouds and temperatures
between 12-24C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 10-22C.
Wednesday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 316.448
British pound 528.081 Japanese Yen(100) 238.159
French franc 51.584 German mark 172.916
Italian lira (100) 17.504 Irish Punt 435.885
Belgian franc 8.379 Finnish mark 56.978
Dutch guilder 153.502 Danish kr. 45.344
Austrian sch. 24.579 Spanish peseta 2.038
Swedish kr. 39.878 Norwegian kr. 41.616
Swiss franc 208.211 Port. Escudo 1.685
AUS dollar 208.528 Can. dollar 222.347
Cyprus pound 592.224