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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-11-27

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, 27/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis again dismisses speculation over early elections
  • Karamanlis lashes out at gov't
  • Stephanopoulos in Portugal
  • Economic development secured through 2006-Simitis
  • Mitsotakis predicts EMU entry, but with sobering aftermath
  • Papandreou-Clerides talks focus on proximity talks, Helsinki summit
  • Papandreou meetings with Cyprus party leaders
  • Albanian PM Meta promises improved investment climate
  • Iran's Nassirinia wins the gold in 85-kg category
  • Gov't focuses on joblessness
  • Greece is biggest energy consumer in EU
  • Athens Stock Exchange
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL Simitis again dismisses speculation over early elections

Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday rejected a renewed flurry of rumours that he intends to call early general elections, saying "ele-ctions will take place at the end of the four-year term".

Speaking in Irakleio shortly after his arrival on the island for a two-day tour, Mr. Simitis challenged main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis to "take the beneficial decisions regarding 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."

"The present Parliament is able to elect a President of the Republic. ND must drink the bitter cup and take its decisions. It must take responsible decisions in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. Decisions that will benefit the country. It cannot escape from the dilemmas. We shall carry on with the policy we have announced. Elections will take place at the end of the four-year term," Mr. Simitis said.

Parliament will be electing a new president of the republic next march. PASOK proposed the election of incumbent

President Kostis Stphanopoulos, but ND has yet to decide on its possible candidate to the election.

Karamanlis lashes out at gov't

The country has entered the final stretch before a pre-election period, with main opposition New Democracy (ND) adamantly against any mud-slinging or a retreat from the party's positions, ND leader Costas Karamanlis stressed on Friday.

ND covers the centre of the political spectrum, while dividing lines within the party do not exist, Mr. Karamanlis said in addressing a party rally in Athens.

He accused the government of what he called audacity and abuse of power, claiming that "the long stay in power results in an abnormal function of the poltical system's inistitutions".

Mr. Karamanlis also charged that the government was continually attempting to pass on its responsibilities to others, adding that citizens' everyday quality of life is declining.

To press the point, he claimed that there was lack of areas dedicated to parks and sports, while also referring to traffic and air pollution.

"It is not possible for you (PASOK) to govern for 20 years and bear no responsibility," he charged.

Stephanopoulos in Portugal

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will pay a state visit to Portugal from Dec. 1-4 at the invitation of his Portuguese counterpart Jorge Sampaio, it was announced yesterday. Mr. Stephanopoulos will be accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister Christos Rokofyllos.

Economic development secured through 2006-Simitis

The country's economic development has been secured until 2006 through state and European Union investments, Prime Minister Costas Simtis stressed on Friday during an event in Iralkeio, Crete.

The government has secured 15 trillion drachmas from the state budget and 45 trillion drachmas from the Union budget for the 2000-2006 period, while an additional nine trillion was secured for special projects in the provinces, the premier added.

Referring to Crete, he said: "We want to make it into the centre of SE Mediterranean".

Addressing issues directly related to Irakleio, Mr. Simitis said funding from the Thrid Community Support Framework will be more generous than that of the second.

Specific projects already planned include refuse management, construction of a coastas highway and the "cultural route" from Knossos to Irakleio's Venetian quarter, in line with Rethymno and Hania.

Mitsotakis predicts EMU entry, but with sobering aftermath

Greece will enter Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) but will confront serious problems immediately afterwards, former premier and New Democracy (ND) honorary president Constintine Mistotakis predicted yesterday.

Following a meeting with Bank of Greece Governor Lukas Papademos, Mr. Mitsotakis said the Greek economy's "numerous problems" were "covered up so we can join EMU, and will fall on our heads the day after the entryIWe should get it over with sooner than later so we can enter the new phase," he added.

He also said the government has based all its efforts on monetary policy, which has reached its limits, and as a result "we are faced with an inflation problem, which we attempt to confront with last-minute measures."

Papandreou-Clerides talks focus on proximity talks, Helsinki summit

Foreign Minister George Papandreou was received here on Friday by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides for talks centring on the possible outcome from upcoming proximity talks as the EU Helsinki summit.

In statements afterwards, Mr. Papandreou reiterated that Athens would decide on Turkey's future status with the European Union after Greek officials read the final resolution to be drafted at the EU summit.

Asked to comment on reports that Washington was confident that Greece would 'rubber stamp' Turkey's EU candidate status, Mr. Papandreou noted that the US side was optimistic that Greece would be satisfied with the summit's final texts.

"However, we expect tough talks, because each of the 15 EU member-states is approaching the issue under discussion with its own sensitivities, concerns and priorities," he said.

He added that the period between the advent of proximity talks in New York on Dec. 3 and the Helsinki summit on Dec. 10 was not enough to provide an evaluation on whether there had been progress on the Cyprus issue, while it would give Greece the impetu s to approve Turkey's EU candidacy status.

Papandreou meetings with Cyprus party leaders

The EU summit in Helsinki will be a landmark for Greece which will contribute not only to Cyprus' EU accession prospects but to the pursuit of a resolution of the Cyprus problem, Mr. Papandreou said after meeting with Secretary-General of Cypriot AKEL par ty, Dimitris Christofias.

Mr. Christofias said that without joint action on the part of Greece and Cyprus, the future could be described as 'gloomy'.

"Greece is right now our support," he said, "something which Cyprus appreciated".

Mr. Papandreou said his talks with Mr. Christofias had provided him with an opportunity to discuss in depth possible developments.

He cited these as inter-communal talks and the prospect of possible scenarios and answers and, more generally, Greek-Turkish, Cyprus-Greek- Turkish relations as well as the forthcoming summit in Helsinki, which will discuss expansion and Turkey's EU cand idacy bid.

Mr. Christofias also had criticism for the Cypriot government, saying it was viewing events "with apathy, awaiting from Greece and the Americans to take initiatives, something which is not good".

He said AKEL saw Greece's efforts to build on the good climate with Turkey, developed in the wake of the two earthquakes, as "positive". "It has been AKEL's standing position that the development and improvement of Greek- Turkish relations should ha ve positive effects on the course of the Cypriot issue," he said.

"For this good will and initiative on the part of Greece to have a positive outcome it needs to be reciprocated by the other side and we are waiting on this matter. We expect to see specific moves on Greek-Turkish relations as well as on Cyprus from Tur key's side and (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash; moves that will break the impasse," he said.

"We would have no objection, if there is a response and movement put forth on Cyprus, if Turkey were to pursue and eventually become a member of the EU. It was and is our conviction that Turkey, Cyprus and Greece in the EU would lead to the normalisatio n of relations and cultivate friendly relations, both as states and as peoples," he said. For AKEL, the main issue is and remains "pursuit of a solution to the Cypriot issue."

"We are not satisfied by Turkey's stance at this time," he said, adding: "It is characterised as unacceptable and provocative in relation to the Cyprus issue."

Mr. Papandreou told reporters that "an open and critical approach to the issues was the only one which can bring us the right results".

If everything is laid on the table, he said, "...we will work on the basis of mutual interest...Greece and Cyprus... on the rationale that we are pursuing a resolution of the Cyprus and the accession procedure which we do not see as proceeding independe ntly but essentially being a process which will help, as we see it, a resolution of the Cyprus issue."

Mr. Papandreou and the alternate president of the Democratic Rally party, Panayiotis Dimitriou, reaffirmed that a mutual consensus exists between Nicosia and Athens over the Cyprus issue.

On his part, Mr. Dimitriou said close cooperation between Nicosia and Athens exists and is being strengthened, while he referred to Greece's interest and determination "to safeguard the just causes of the nation and, more specifically, to promote the ca se of Cyprus."

In the framework of his contacts with the political leadership of Cyprus, Mr. Papandreou visited Democratic Party (DHKO) president and House of Representatives Speaker Spyros Kyprianou at Nicosia General Hopital. No statements were made after the 30-min ute talks.

Mr. Papandreou also met with Socialist EDEK party leader Vassos Lyssarides, who said it was clear "that regardless of whatever other processes, what remains basic is that real, full and finalised normalisation between Greece and Turkey passes through th e Cyprus issue."

Mr. Papandreou said "an in-depth discussion and briefing took place", adding that "we have the mutual conviction that whatever happens at Helsinki, we should support the course of resolving the Cyprus issue, to support the accession course of Cyprus."

"We in no case advised the government of Cyprus that it should refuse to attend talks, but we said that there were many other ways of doing the same things after certain things had been secured," Mr. Lyssarides said.

Asked whether EDEK agrees with the Greek government's handling of the Helsinki summit issue, Mr. Lyssarides replied in the affirmative but underlined, however, that "no decision has been taken yet."

Albanian PM Meta promises improved investment climate

TIRANA, 27/11/1999 (ANA - I. Patso) A delegation of Greek investors, accompanied by Athens' envoy in the country, on Friday met with new Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta.

The Albanian premier noted the importance of Greek investment for his country, which as he said is second only to the Italian investments.

On his part, Greek ambassador to Tirana Alexandros Mallias stressed that the delegation's visit, along with previous investments in Albania, created the preconditions for Mr. Meta's successful visit to Athens scheduled for Dec. 22.

Mr. Meta noted that the European Commission's approval of a feasability study regarding Albania proved that public order in his country is now at acceptable levels, therefore, "there is no danger for foreign investments."

He also reassured Greek investors that there will be transparency on the part of the Tirana government as well as improvement of the existing legal framework.

Finally, Mr. Meta requested of Greek investors to notify authorities of any and all cases involving corruption, while he stressed that his government will expend every effort to combat corruption in state services.

Iran's Nassirinia wins the gold in 85-kg category

Iranian weightlifter Shahin Nassirinia pulled off a major upset on Friday at the world weightlifting championships in Athens by taking the gold medal over hometown favourite Pyrrhos Dimas in the 85-kg category.

Dimas initially looked unbeatable, especially after breaking the world record in the snatch by lifting 180.5 kg. Nassirinia came in fourth in the event with 175 kg, only to lift a whopping 215 kg in the clean-and-jerk 7.5 kilos more than Dimas.

The final tally had Nassirinia first with a total of 390 kg, Dimas -- the gold medal winner at the last world championships in Finland -- second with 387.5 kg and Germany's Mark Huster taking the bronze with 382.5 kg.

Gov't focuses on joblessness

Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou told the seminar that the battle against unemployment would be the focus of interest for both the Greek government and the European Union.

The cabinet is to meet on Friday to discuss the national action plan on employment. Mr. Papaioannou said the government had also set a priority of supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises, which in turn would support job creation.

"In 1995-1999, 126,000 new jobs out of a total of 135,000 were created in businesses which employ 1-10 people, representing 90 percent of the total," he said.

"Small- and medium-sized enterprises in the same period received 114 billion drachmas in subsidies, and the creation of 37,000 personal enterprises was subsidised with 41 billion drachmas."

The minister said he would be meeting with Education and Religious Affairs Minister Gerasimos Arsenis next week to discuss improving vocational training.

On a European level, the Council of Social Affairs Ministers is to meet in Brussels on Monday. In addition, EU labour and finance ministers will meet to discuss goals for 2000 and coordinating national social insurance systems.

Portugal, which takes over as the EU's rotating president on January 1, has said that it will focus on employment, the subject of a special summit in March.

Greece is biggest energy consumer in EU

Greece is the largest energy consumer in the European Union in recent years, according to comparative figures on energy consumption per GDP unit released by Eurostat, the EU's statistical service.

The figures were carried in the TA NEA newspaper.

According to Eurostat, Denmark is the most frugal energy consumer in the 15- nation bloc, while Greece is the largest user, followed by Portugal, Britain and France. According to data attributed by the newspaper to Greece's development ministry, energy c onsumption (oil, electricity and other) 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.

The main factor in the increase of energy consumption was transportation needs, namely the increase in the number of automobiles on the street, as low speeds used in urban transportation result in larger quantities of fuel burned.

Other factors were household use, chiefly for heating and airconditioning units, and commercial activities.

In those 17 years, energy consumption for transport rose by 39.1 percent, while consumption for home and commercial use rose 35.6 percent.

Athens Stock Exchange

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.Sector indices ended as follows: Banks (+4.59 pct), Insurance (+4.13 pct), Leasing (+1.69 pct), Investment (+1.90 pct), Construction (+1.12 pct), Industrials (+2.36 pct), Miscellaneous (+1.49 pct) and Holding (+6.66 pct).

WEATHER

Sunny weather in most part of the country is forecast for Sunday, with only light cloud forecast for eastern and southern Greece. Winds north, northeasterly, medium to strong, and very strong in the Aegean and Ionian seas. Sunny in Athens, with temperatures ranging from 7-16C. Sunny in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 1-12C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          321.547
Pound sterling       518.737
Japanese yen (100)   309.226
French franc          49.755
German mark          166.869
Italian lira (100)    16.855
Irish Punt           414.402
Belgian franc          8.090
Finnish mark          54.891
Dutch guilder        148.100
Danish kr.            43.872
Austrian sch.         23.718
Spanish peseta         1.961
Swedish kr.           38.091
Norwegian kr.         40.182
Swiss franc          203.767
Port. Escudo           1.628
Can. dollar          219.172
Aus. dollar          205.374
Cyprus pound         567.384
Euro                 326.368
(M.S.)
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