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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-11-17

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, 17/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis heads to Istanbul OSCE summit
  • PM underlines importance of Clinton visit
  • Clinton itinery released
  • Athens rules out tripartite meeting
  • Two cars torched in Athens
  • Parties protest rally ban
  • Athens 2004 wants lottery funds replaced
  • Oil prices will not affect convergence
  • Greece EMU member in June 2000, Papantoniou says
  • Young Greeks loathe education system
  • National Bank expands on the Internet
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis heads to Istanbul OSCE summit

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said today that Greece and the region were at a "critical crossroads of developments" and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit that begins later in the day in the Turkish city of Istanbul provided "an international forum to reinforce our firm positions". Speaking at Athens airport before departing for Istanbul, Simitis said that the policies for stabilisation and development of the Balkans needed to be further consolidated in order to reduce the danger of crises, "and this must be done without exclusions and with respect for the existing borders and international legality".

PM underlines importance of Clinton visit

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the significance of Clinton's visit for the country was self-evident, "as we are given the opportunity to reiterate our view on how poeace and cooperation in the regin may be advanced and the problems tackled". "The good relations between our two countries, the long- standing ties between the two peoples, the flourishing Greek community in the US, all dictate a good relationship and good hospitality towards our American guests and President Clinton," Simitis said.

Clinton itinery released

US President Bill Clinton arrives in Athens Friday afternoon on a 24-hour visit for talks with Greek government, amid stringent security measures and a ban on all protest rallies and marches in the Greek capital for the duration of his stay, announced by the Athens chief of police. Air Force One will land at 6:35 p.m. at Athens' international airport. Shortly after his arrival, Clinton and his wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea will attend a banquet at the presidential mansion to be given in his honour by Greek counterpart Costis Stephanopoulos. Clinton and Stephanopoulos will hold a brief private discussion at the presidential mansion on Saturday at 10:25 a.m., after which they will be joined by aides.

Athens rules out tripartite meeting

There will be no tripartite meeting between the U.S, Greek and Turkish leaders during the Istanbul OSCE summit, government spokesman Yiannis Nikolaou said on Wednesday. Nikolaou said there was also no expectation that a joint communique would be issued in the wake of Thursday's meeting between the Greek and Turkish prime ministers.

Two cars torched in Athens

Two cars, one with American licence plates, were torched in separate incidents in Athens early today, but no injuries were reported, police said. The first attack came at 12:30 a.m. in the central Athens residential district of Exarchia, with the explosion of a home-made bomb comprising three propane cannisters, of which two ignited. In a second incident, a car bearing American licence plates was torched at 3:30 a.m. in Paleo Faliro.

Parties protest rally ban

The ban on rallies and protest marches in Athens announced by the Attica chief of police for the duration of US president Bill Clinton's visit to the Greek capital Friday and Saturday has drawn sharp criticism from several opposition parties. The Communist Party of Greece, which controls 11 seats in the 300-member parliament, called the move an "American- inspired choice of the (Greek) government" and a "deeply anti-popular decision with a political goal". The Coalition of Left and Progress, which holds 10 seats in parliament, said that the government, hiding behind the police authorities, was aligning itself with the demands of the American authorities and going back on previous commitments", with an "authoritarian decision reminiscent of other eras".

Athens 2004 wants lottery funds replaced

The Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organising Committee said on Wednesday it was suffering from cash flow problems, due in part to the government's decision last month to drop plans for a lottery that would have raised 70 billion drachmas for the Games. Athens 2004 Managing Director Costas Bacouris told reporters that the committee faced an "enormous cash flow problem" and had appealed to the inter-ministerial committee to help. Plans for the 'Olympic Video-lotto' were summarily dropped last month by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who said he would not allow the lottery and by extension the Olympic Games to be a playing field for party-politicking.

Oil prices will not affect convergence

Rising oil prices in international markets will not have an impact on the inflation criterion, a precondition for the country's participation in EMU, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said today. Speaking to reporters after addressing a parliamentary economic committee on next year's budget, Papantoniou said rising oil prices would be an "unpleasant development" on the country's inflation. He added, however, that it would not affect Greece's course towards participating in the eurozone as it affected, simultaneously, the inflation rate in the European Union as a whole.

Greece EMU member in June 2000, Papantoniou says

Greece will be the 12th member of EMU in June 2000, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told parliament today. Addressing a parliament's committee on economic affairs that debates next year's budget, Papantoniou referred to "dramatic changes" in the Greek economy in the last six years, such as a drop in the inflation rate from 14 percent to 2.0 percent and an almost zero deficit. The government has succeeded in completing a fiscal restructuring effort which opened the door to tax cuts and social benefits policies, he said.

Young Greeks loathe education system

The majority of young Greeks would do away with the current educational system because it fails to foster excellence and it is marked by disorganisation and confusion, according to a 1998 survey on the beliefs and attitudes of 668 teenage students. The present education system is "based on mediocrity and lacks organisation, causing confusion with successive reforms and giving the impression that the state is lacking the will and effort to improve it," a survey conducted by the National Social Research Centre said. The state of education in Greece, the report continued, led to the "necessary evil of private supplementary tutoring" which 48% of those surveyed said they had to resort to. Young Greeks also "feel disdain" for politicians and political parties, considering them to be involved with their own interests.

National Bank expands on the Internet

National Bank of Greece today announced a deal to acquire a 10 percent stake in OTEnet, an Internet services company affiliate to Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation. The bank will acquire the shares in an equity capital increase plan by OTEnet. OTEnet is the first domestic Internet services company. It accounts for 33 percent of the country's market and 1999 profits are expected to reach 250 million drachmas. National Bank aimes to promote its services and products through the Internet.

WEATHER

Overcast weather will prevail throughout the country today with rain and storms in mainland Greece, the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean Sea and the Ionian Sea. Winds variable, moderate to strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Scattered cloud in Athens. Rain and storms in Thessaloniki.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          315.615
Pound sterling       511.773
Japanese yen (100)   298.810
French franc          49.711
German mark          166.722
Italian lira (100)    16.840
Irish Punt           414.037
Belgian franc          8.083
Finnish mark          54.843
Dutch guilder        147.969
Danish kr.            43.846
Austrian sch.         23.697
Spanish peseta         1.960
Swedish kr.           37.746
Norwegian kr.         39.801
Swiss franc          203.300
Port. Escudo           1.627
Can. dollar          215.204
Aus. dollar          202.517
Cyprus pound         565.242
Euro                 326.080
(M.P.)
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