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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-12-21

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, 21/12/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Govt: EMU entry more important than elections
  • Aegean shelf only difference with Turkey - govt
  • Coast guard battles Elefsis port oil slick
  • Defence ministry budget cut 3.5 percent
  • Social spending growing at high rates
  • Greece one of the safest countries in Europe
  • OTE announces new board chairman for Armentel
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Govt: EMU entry more important than elections

The government said on Tuesday that the completion of procedures for the country's inclusion in economic and monetary union took precedence over holding national elections. Denying reports that the government was planning to spring early elections, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that the present parliament was able to elect or re-elect a new president, and so avert early elections. "The government insists on its position that elections should be held in September 2000 and not March," Reppas said. Getting Greece into economic and monetary union required the country be in a "strong negotiating position and with all powers focused," Reppas said.

Aegean shelf only difference with Turkey - govt

Greece said on Tuesday that it had only one bone of contention with Turkey that the International Court of Justice at The Hague could deal with and that was the delineation of the Aegean continental shelf. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was commenting to reporters on statements made by U.S. State Department spokesman Jim Foley, who said that the Hague or some other conflict resolution body could resolve "Greek-Turkish differences". Reppas added that recourse to the Hague over the continental shelf delineation required the drafting of an agreement to refer the dispute to arbitrators and mutual consent.

Coast guard battles Elefsis port oil slick

The Greek coast guard was battling on Wednesday to control an oil slick covering some 12000m2 in the Elefsis port, officials said. The slick was caused when the Greek tanker Aegean Y collided with an old shipwreck and suffered multiple cracks to two of its tanks. Joining the mopping up effort are privately-owned anti-pollution vessels. The Aegean Y has been banned from sailing.

Defence ministry budget cut 3.5 percent

The defence ministry budget will be reduced by 3.5 percent in 2000 but the ministry's budgeting will be far more effective, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Tuesday. Speaking to Parliament during the debate on the 2000 budget, the minister said that Greek industry was 42 percent involved in defence contracts for the Armed Forces, the highest percentage in the past three years. He said the armed forces was being transformed into a professional force and that Greece was a definitive factor for safety in the wider region.

Social spending growing at high rates

Greece's spending on social sectors is growing at rates higher than that of the European Union, Health and Welfare Minister Lambros Papadimas said on Tuesday. Papadimas, speaking during the parliament debate on the 2000 budget, said that social policy was an integral element of the government's development policy. "We lead in the percentage increase in Cohesion Fund countries,and are only 2.0 percent below the strong EU countries," Papadimas said. The 2000 budget's allocations for health and welfare are up by some 98 billion drachmas, a percentage of some 10 percent, he said.

Greece one of the safest countries in Europe

Greece is one of the safest countries in Europe, Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoides said on Tuesday, rejecting as a popular misconception that Greece was in the grip of a crimewave. Chrysohoides, speaking in parliament on the final day said the government's policy of 'safe cities' had resulted in crime coming down some 15 percent in the first year due in part to the effectiveness of the programme to increase police foot patrols in areas with high crime rates. On a European level, he continued, Greece placed fourth safest. Robberies fell 7.0 percent, homicides 17.0 percent, thefts 23 percent and thefts of cars and motorbikes by 4.0 percent, the minister said.

OTE announces new board chairman for Armentel

State-run Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) on Tuesday announced the appointment of George Argyropoulos as new chairman of the board of directors of Armentel, the Armenian telecoms utility. OTE holds a 90 percent stake in Armentel. Argyropoulos, whose appointment was decided at a general assembly of Armentel shareholders on December 17, has worked with OTE since 1977. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, with specialisation in electronics and telecommunications.

WEATHER

Rainy weather is forecast for almost all parts of Greece today. Snow in the mountainous regions of central and northern Greece. Winds southerly, southwesterly, strong, turning gale force in the Aegean Sea. Sunny in Athens with rain expected in the evening and temperatures from 11-17C. Rain in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 7-11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          325.634
Pound sterling       522.824
Japanese yen (100)   316.488
French franc          49.974
German mark          167.604
Italian lira (100)    16.929
Irish Punt           416.228
Belgian franc          8.126
Finnish mark          55.133
Dutch guilder        148.752
Danish kr.            44.084
Austrian sch.         23.823
Spanish peseta         1.970
Swedish kr.           38.154
Norwegian kr.         40.589
Swiss franc          204.903
Port. Escudo           1.635
Can. dollar          219.966
Aus. dollar          209.114
Cyprus pound         569.745
Euro                 327.806
(M.P.)
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