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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-12-05

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, 05/12/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Prime Minister Simitis addresses party central committee
  • Vote on PASOK draft policy text by central committee
  • Declaration for the return of statue of the Niki of Samothrace
  • Gov't rules out legislating 35-hr working week
  • Drachma's parity with euro, dollar shrinks
  • OA defends sale of New York office
  • Athens Stock Market
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Prime Minister Simitis addresses party central committee

PASOK will win the next elections, whenever they might occur, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said, in his closing address of the 4th party Central Committee conference in Athens on Friday.

"Positive preconditions have been created for PASOK, since a new social majority has been created, a new great social coalition of forces that is expressed by the ruling party and can provide the victory," Simitis said.

"It also creates (the coalition) the prospects of renewal for PASOK and the terms of unity at the social base of the party, as well as the party organisation," he added.

"PASOK should prepare the new phase that is to follow, which will have all the characteristics of an election in which PASOK will proceed having two advantages, its economic and its social policies," he said.

Simitis also noted that there is a change in the way people confront governmental policies and now there are more positive attitudes, adding that citizens are certain that the course set by the government is generally accepted and for this reason it should remain the same.

"The course set by the government until now can not be overturned. There is an impetus accepted that can not be doubted, for this reason we have won the game of economic and political stability, as well as economic and social prospect," Simitis stressed.

He rejected any claim that the policies of the government are guided by expediency due to elections, stressing that those who do not understand the aforementioned have not understood that the government's policy is not a collection of happenstance decisions as opposed to a planned policy.

He also rejected claims that the stance of the government at the Helsinki summit will be determined by the expediencies of the elections due next year, adding that there are several unchanging issues which "we must secure, since this is demanded by the interests of Greece".

"We do not change (policies) according to circumstance," he said, in response to main opposition New Democracy (ND) party accusations.

Simitis concluded with remarks on opposition party reactions to government policies.

Vote on PASOK draft policy text by central committee

PASOK Central Committee members, present during the vote approved unanimously the text of the proposed ideological positions, presented by former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos.

The text will be the base of discussions of PASOK organisations at the local level, in light of the party's General Assembly.

Unofficial reports noted that about 35 members of the committee walked out of the conference and did not vote.

Declaration for the return of statue of the Niki of Samothrace

Return of statue of the Niki of Samothrace sought Representatives of 48 municipalities from around Greece on Friday signed a declaration requesting the return of the statue of the Niki of Samothrace to the northeastern Aegean island, where it was found and transported to Paris, France.

The hellenistic era statue has been part of the Louvre Museum ancient Greek antiquities collection since 1826. Athens News Agency

Gov't rules out legislating 35-hr working week

The government said on Friday that it would not legislate a 35-hour working week although it backed individual moves by companies to introduce the new arrangement.

Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou said at a cabinet meeting on the national action plan for employment that the government wanted employment to rise in 2000 to 2004.

He said the ministry's 20 employment programmes had provided jobs for 140, 000 people and training for 110,000 workers.

Unemployment benefit had risen 20 percent and the unemployed had been given the right to medical benefits.

Mr. Papaioannou noted that Greece in 1998 had the highest employment growth rate at 3.0%, while the number of jobs rose 1.4 percent per annum between 1994 and 1998.

He attributed a simultaneous rise in the number of unemployed to an "explosive growth" of the work force, including a 4.2 percent rise in 1998.

The emphasis by the European Union on employment and plans for more funding from the Third Community Support Framework should further bolster the growth of jobs, the minister said.

Government policy on combatting unemployment included linking education with vocational training, drafting and shaping a national system for vocational training, strengthening a business mentality, and linking entrepreneurial skills with employment, par ticularly in small and medium- size enterprises.

In relation to demands for a 35-hour working week with no loss of pay, Mr. Papaioannou said the government supported individual plans but could not support the concept across the board.

Drachma's parity with euro, dollar shrinks

Domestic foreign exchange trade was dominated on Friday by the euro's slump on international markets, helping to bring the drachma's parities with the dollar and euro within the same range.

At the central bank's daily fixing, the European single currency was set at 328.790 drachmas from 328.570 drachmas in the previous session and 328.600 drachmas on Wednesday. Also at the fixing, the dollar jumped against the drachma in line with its rise on international markets.

The US currency was set at 328.250 drachmas from 326.180 drachmas a day earlier, 325.390 drachmas on Wednesday and 324.990 drachmas on Tuesday.

OA defends sale of New York office

The management of Greek national carrier Olympic Airways on Friday defended its decision to sell its New York office, saying the ailing company would divest itself of a source of 'permanent financial loss'.

OA's management said in a statement that it was selling a company asset, but would continue to maintain a sales outlet in the U.S. city.

The money from the sale of the building would be used for investments, such as the renewal of OA's fleet, relocation to the new Athens international airport, and improving the company's product overall.

Management said the decision to sell the building was taken on completion of a study and was deemed to be the best medium- and long-term solution.

OA would be served by a sales office on Fifth Avenue to issue tickets and provide customer services.

Other services would be relocated to Brooklyn, where rents were much cheaper and where most of the airline company's employees resided, the statement said.

Athens Stock Market

Equity prices ended the last trading session of the week slightly lower. The general index ended 0.31 per cent lower at 5,560.14 points. Turnover was around 311 billion drachmas. The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks dropped by 1.24 per cent to 2,086.33 points. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.31 percent higher at 2,788.83 points.

WEATHER

Rain is forecast for Greece on Monday, while snow is expected on higher elevations and in nothern regions of the country. Winds southerly, moderate to strong. Rainy in Athens with temperatures from 9-16C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 5-11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          325.624
Pound sterling       520.780
Japanese yen (100)   317.767
French franc          49.723
German mark          166.763
Italian lira (100)    16.845
Irish Punt           414.137
Belgian franc          8.085
Finnish mark          54.857
Dutch guilder        148.004
Danish kr.            43.850
Austrian sch.         23.703
Spanish peseta         1.960
Swedish kr.           37.908
Norwegian kr.         40.206
Swiss franc          203.990
Port. Escudo           1.627
Can. dollar          219.391
Aus. dollar          205.304
Cyprus pound         566.849
Euro                 326.160
(M.S.)
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