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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-11-26

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, 26/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • PM denies early elections reports
  • Government supports renewal of president's term
  • FM Papandreou in Cyprus for talks
  • Athens, Nicosia going to EU summit 'united'
  • Hellenic Railways signs freight train deal with FYROM
  • President to pay official visit to Portugal
  • Fire on board Greek cargo ship
  • Greece biggest energy consumer in EU
  • Workplace fatalities due to slack company interest
  • Unemployment focus of concern in short-term
  • Blue chips lead Greek stocks to recovery
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

PM denies early elections reports

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today rejected a renewed flurry of rumours that he intended to call early general elections, saying that "the elections will take place at the end of the four-year term". Speaking in Heraklion, Crete, shortly after his arrival on the island for a two-day tour, Simitis challenged main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis to "drink the bitter cup" and "take beneficial decisions on the President of the Republic". The ruling PASOK party "is not going to go to early elections," he said. "Those are rumours instigated by all those who wish to avoid certain important decisions... Elections will take place at the end of the four-year term," Simitis said.

Government supports renewal of president's term

The first half of 2000 is critical for developments and will require the utmost stability in the political, economic and social environment, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later. Reppas called on opposition parties to shoulder their responsibilities and said supporting a renewal of the term for President Costis Stephanopoulos - whose exercise of his duties has been exemplary - should be among these. The spokesman criticised New Democracy for clearly setting itself against a re-election for the incumbent president, despite ND leader Costas Karamanlis himself saying a final decision on the issue would be taken in February. In any case, he added, the government is ready to fight and win elections whenever they occur.

FM Papandreou in Cyprus for talks

Foreign Minister George Papandreou met with Cypriot Persident Glafcos Clerides on tactics on possible outcomes from proximity talks and the EU Helsinki summit. In statements after the talks, Papandreou reiterated that Greece would decide on Turkey's status with the European Union afetr it sees the final resolution to be drafted at the EU summit. Asked to comment on reports that the U.S. was confident that Greece would rubber stamp Turkey's EU candidate country status, Papandreou noted that the U.S. side was optimistic that Greece would be satisfied with the summit's final texts. He said that the period between the advent of proximity talks in New York on December 3 and the Helsiniki summit on December 10 was not enough to provide an evaluation on whether there had been progress on the Cyprus issue, which would give Greece the impetus to approve Turkey's EU candidacy status.

Athens, Nicosia going to EU summit 'united'

Greece's foreign minister George Papandreou said today that regardless of whether Athens voted 'yes' or 'no' to Turkey's designation as a "candidate- country" for European Union membership during the EU summit in Helsinki next month, Athens and Nicosia would go to the summit "united" and emerge having benefitted. Papandreou, who is on a visit in Nicosia for talks with the Cyprus government and political parties, said in an interview on Cyprus television RIK that "a new opportunity is opening up today, and we must not look with fear at the Helsinki summit, but rather see it as a substantial opportunity for positive utilisation by all the peoples of the region". Asked whether the return of the Turkish-occupied town of Famagusta would be goodwill gesture on the part of Turkey sufficient to create the conditions for Greece lifting its veto on Turkey's EU candidacy at the Helsinki summit, Papandreou said that such a gesture would be "very substantive".

Hellenic Railways signs freight train deal with FYROM

Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) today announced the signing of an agreement with FYROM's railways authorities aimed at strengthening co- operation and implementing common freight pricing policies next year. The agreement envisages, also, efforts to attract cargoes to freight train networks. The deal covers all freight transport categories, imports, exports and transit. Prices will remain stable in euro terms.

President to pay official visit to Portugal

President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos will pay a state visit to Portugal from December 1-4 at the invitation of his Portuguese counterpart Jorge Sampaio, it was announced today. Stephanopoulos will be accompanied by deputy foreign minister Christos Rokofyllos.

Fire on board Greek cargo ship

A fire broke out aboard a Greek-owned cargo ship early this morning in the Indian Ocean off the Indian port of Madras, and nearby boats were on the way to pick up the 20-member crew, which was spotted by airplane on a life- raft, Greek merchant marine ministry sources said. The sources said fire broke out aboard the 5,983 grt freighter "ELIZA" as it was sailing 280 miles southeast of Madras, en route from Sri Lanka to Bangladesh without cargo. The ship started to take on water after the blaze broke out. According to information from the Bombay port authorities, an aircraft had spotted crew members in a lifeboat near the burning ship. The ministry sources said the crew included two Greek technicians. The "ELIZA" is registered in the Marshall Islands, and was sailing from the Sri Lankan port of Colombo to Bangladesh.

Greece biggest energy consumer in EU

Greece is the biggest energy consumer in the European in recent years, according to comparative figures on energy consumption per GDP unit produced released by the EU's statistical service Eurostat and appearing in today's TA NEA newspaper. According to Eurostat, Denmark is the most frugal energy consumer in the 15-nation bloc, while Greece was the largest user, followed by Portugal, Britain and France. According to data attributed by the newspaper to Greece's development ministry, energy consumption (oil, electricity and others) in the country jumped 37.4 percent in 17 years, from 11,483,000 oil-equivalent tons in 1979 to 16,273,000 oil-equivalent tons in 1996.

Workplace fatalities due to slack company interest

Greece has strong workplace safety regulations but companies fail to enforce these, resulting in 100 fatal workplace accidents a year, speakers at a Labour Ministry seminar said on Friday. The figures from the Foundation of Health, Safety and Workplace Conditions indicate that one worker loses his or her life every three days in workplace-related accidents. A total of 25,000 workplace-related accidents are recorded per year in Greece, speakers said. In the European Union overall, 8000 workplace fatalities are recorded. Speakers noted that only 50 of the larger companies have established health and safety committees in the workplace, as required by law.

Unemployment focus of concern in short-term

Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou said that the battle against unemployment would be the focus of interest for both national governments and the European Union over the short term. Cabinet, he said, would be meeting on the National Action Plan for Employment next Friday. He said the government also placed tremendous emphasis on a policy of support for small and medium-size enterprises which would in turn support the creation of jobs. "In 1995-1990, of a total 135,000 new jobs created, 126,000, or 90 percent, were created by businesses which employ 1-10 people," he said. He said he would be meeting with Education and Religious Affairs Minister Gerasimos Arsenis next week to discuss better and more effective vocational training programmes.

Blue chips lead Greek stocks to recovery

Greek equities rebounded strongly on the last trading session of a dull week, helped by renewed buying interest in blue chip stocks, mainly by foreign institutional investors. The general index ended 3.66 percent higher at 5,616.89 points. Turnover was a moderate 263.5 billion drachmas. The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended 2.55 percent higher while the FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks surged 4.92 percent to end at 2,792.78 points.

WEATHER

Cloud and rain is forecast for central and eastern Greece and the Aegean today. Fine weather is forecast for the rest of the country. Winds north, northwesterly, medium to strong, and very strong in the Aegean and Ionian seas. Cloudy in Athens, with temperatures ranging from 7-14C. Sunny in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 2-9C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          319.315
Pound sterling       516.534
Japanese yen (100)   306.032
French franc          49.694
German mark          166.667
Italian lira (100)    16.835
Irish Punt           413.898
Belgian franc          8.081
Finnish mark          54.825
Dutch guilder        147.919
Danish kr.            43.831
Austrian sch.         23.689
Spanish peseta         1.959
Swedish kr.           37.936
Norwegian kr.         39.968
Swiss franc          203.752
Port. Escudo           1.626
Can. dollar          217.982
Aus. dollar          202.492
Cyprus pound         566.075
Euro                 325.971
(M.P.)
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