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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-12-09

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, 09/12/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • PM leaves for Helsinki EU summit
  • Govt says elections due in Sept.
  • Airforce jet crashes, pilots safe
  • Olympic announces ground handling agreement
  • OTE appoints new Romtelecom chair
  • Stock market spurs public revenues
  • Police on watch for doomsday cult members
  • Fog leads to flight cancellations in Thessaloniki
  • Cremation law close, lobbyists say
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

PM leaves for Helsinki EU summit

Prime Minister Costas Simitis left on Thursday for Helsinki, where he leads a government delegation participating in the European Union's regular half- yearly summit. The summit formally begins on Friday and is expected to discuss the burning issue of whether Turkey should be characterised a candidate country for EU membership. Simitis will meet with the current president of the European Council of Ministers, Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, this afternoon. On Wednesday, the Greek prime minister issued a call for 'clarity' to be brought to relations between the European Union and Turkey and to relations between Greece and Turkey, which will facilitate the resolution of problems. He underlined that Athens believed Turkey's bid for candidacy status to be a positive step.

Govt says elections due in Sept.

The government's intention is to hold general elections in September 2000 at the end of the current four-year term, government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis told a press briefing Thursday, adding that if early elections did take place, the responsibility would lie with the opposition. Asked to comment on a front-page article in the new Athens daily "Sto Karfi" claiming that early general elections would be called for February 20, 2000, Athanassakis said: "The government's intention is to abide by the time- table, which provides for elections at the end of the four-year term, in September 2000".

Airforce jet crashes, pilots safe

An airforce jet crashed Thursday morning in an uninhabited area near Araxos military airport in wester Greece, but both pilots parachuted to safety, defence ministry sources said. They said the Corsair A-7 jet, on a training flight, crashed at 10:15 a.m. about 1.5 miles east of Araxos airport. The two pilots successfully parachuted to safety, and were taken to the nearby 251 General Air Force Hospital for precautionary check-ups, the sources said. The sources tentatively attributed the accident to engine failure.

Olympic announces ground handling agreement

Greek national carrier Olympic Airways announced on Thursday it had signed a three-year association agreement with 13 Arab airlines for the provision of ground services. The 13 airlines, members of the Arab Air Carriers' Organisation (AACO) are: GULF AIR, SYRIAN ARAB AIRLINES, ROYAL AIR MAROC, TUNIS AIR, MIDDLE EAST AIRLINES, ROYAL JORDANIAN, KUWAIT AIRLINES, YEMEN AIRWAYS, SAUDI ARABIAN AIRLINES, EGYPTAIR, AIR ALGERIE, SUDAN AIRWAYS, and LIBYAN ARAB AIRLINES. The collaboration applies to Athens Airport and all the airports in the region, with an option for collaboration at Athens' new Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Spata.

OTE appoints new Romtelecom chair

State-controlled Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) on Thursday announced the appointment of its deputy CEO George Skarpelis as the new chairman of the board of Romanian telecoms Romtelecom. "We like to announce that the general assembly of the shareholders of Romtelecom on December 7, 1999, appointed Mr. G. Skarpelis as the new chairman of the board of Romtelecom," an OTE announcement said. OTE acquired a 35 percent stake, with 51 percent voting rights, in Rometelecom for 675 million dollars a year ago in an international tender for privatisation of the Romanian telecoms organisation.

Stock market spurs public revenues

Public revenues were up an impressive 530 percent in the first 11 months of 1999, due primarily to tax collected on stock market transactions, the finance ministry said. According to the ministry's figures, revenues for the state from the tax on stock market transactions came to 195.9 billion drachmas, up from 31.1 billion drachmas for the same period last year. Revenue raised from a charge imposed on mobile phone use increased 64 percent in the same period, totalling 7.5 billion drachmas, up from 4.6 billion in the same period last year.

Police on watch for doomsday cult members

Greek police are on watch around the country for any members of the doomsday cult "Concerned Christians", in the wake of the deportation of 25 cult members last week. According to reports, police have been investigating homes in the Kozani region, without these searches to date uncovering anything. Greece deported 25 U.S. citizens residing in Rafina and Neo Voutza in the Attica region last week. Authorities said that the group - which included women and young children - no longer had valid residency permits. The same fate awaits any other member of the cult detected by police, according to one source.

Fog leads to flight cancellations in Thessaloniki

Six incoming and outgoing flights at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport were cancelled Thursday morning, due to heavy fog in the area. The airport was effectively forced shut for 2.5 hours, from 6.30 a.m., resulting in the cancellation of flights for Munich, Dusseldorf and Paris and two morning flights for Athens. Further delays of this sort are expected at least until Spring, when an upgraded ILS automated landing system is put into operation at the airport. The new system is expected to drastically improve visibility for aircraft, even in conditions of heavy fog.

Cremation law close, lobbyists say

The interior ministry is close to introducing legislation which will allow the non-Orthodox to opt for cremation rather than burial, members of a group lobbying for the right to cremation said on Thursday. Speakers at a news conference said the final touches were being put to a law which would allow those whose religious beliefs permitted cremation to have such ceremonies conducted in Greece, finally bringing Greece into line with EU human rights directives. At present, the absence of crematoria effectively prevents those who wish to cremate their loved ones or to be cremated themselves from carrying out their wishes.

WEATHER

Overcast weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today with the possibility of scattered showers in the northwest of the country in the afternoon. Winds variable, light to moderate. Partly cloudy with sunny spells in Athens and temperatures from 8-17C. Overcast in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-12C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          318.124
Pound sterling       517.011
Japanese yen (100)   309.950
French franc          49.674
German mark          166.600
Italian lira (100)    16.828
Irish Punt           413.734
Belgian franc          8.077
Finnish mark          54.803
Dutch guilder        147.861
Danish kr.            43.805
Austrian sch.         23.680
Spanish peseta         1.958
Swedish kr.           38.019
Norwegian kr.         40.097
Swiss franc          203.370
Port. Escudo           1.625
Can. dollar          215.046
Aus. dollar          202.884
Cyprus pound         565.698
Euro                 325.842
(M.P.)
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