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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-03-31

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.forthnet.gr/ape>


NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 31/03/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Albanian Premier due in Athens Wednesday as Greece prepares to participate in multinational protection force
  • Defence minister says mission would be "dangerous"
  • Uzbekistan president begins official visit today
  • Greece to take over handling of Bosnia transport unit
  • Trade unionists warn of labour unrest
  • Greece and Cyprus examine ways to boost business in the Balkans

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Albanian Premier due in Athens Wednesday as Greece prepares to participate

    in miltinational protection force

    Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino's visit to Athens on Wednesday is an indication of the good relations existing between the two governments and signals the beginning of renewed attempts by Tirana to secure humanitarian and financial aid in an effort to bring calm to the strife-torn country.

    "By making contacts and presenting the chaotic situation which exists in my country, I hope to secure more humanitarian and financial aid and, at the same time, as (the leader of) a national reconciliation government, to stress what I have already said to the Greek ambassador in Tirana, that we are open and prepared to cooperate with the (Greek Prime Minister's Costas) Simitis government", the Albanian premier said in an exclusive interview with the ANA.

    Mr. Fino's comments came after the UN Security Council gave the green light early Saturday for a multinational protection force to restore order and guarantee distribution of aid.

    Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday in Thessaloniki that Greece would be ready by the end of the week to contribute an army battalion to the multinational force that will oversee aid distribution in Albania.

    Mr. Fino will cross the Greek-Albanian border by road at the Kakavia border post after meeting local authorities at Gjirokaster.

    Mr. Fino said he was pleased at the response of the Greek people to the Albanian crisis.

    On Saturday, a Hellenic Air Force transport plane delivered the second batch of food and medical aid to the Albanian army, after direct consultations between the defence ministries of the two countries.

    Defence Minister says mission would be "dangerous"

    Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that the dispatch of an Italian-led multinational protection force would be "a dangerous mission, operating under adverse circumstances" and will call for "preparedness, discipline and coordination".

    The 600-800 men Greece is contributing to the force will be permanent members of the armed forces. The Italian participation will exceed, according to reports, 1,000 men out of a total of about 2,500.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos had a telephone conversation with his Italian counterpart on Friday and Saturday over the details of the force. Asked if Turkey would participate in the multinational force, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that Turkey had offered to take part and probably would. Final decisions regarding the multinational force expedition would be made in Rome in the next few days and a representative of the Greek Armed Forces will be in the Italian capital for that purpose, he said.

    Three Greek defence experts were already in Albania assisting in efforts for the re-organization of the Albanian Armed Forces, the minister added.

    Uzbekistan president begins official visit today

    Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov will start an official visit to Greece today, at the invitation of President Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Mr. Karimov will meet the Greek President tomorrow morning and will be guest of honour at an official reception in the evening.

    Mr. Karimov will also meet Prime Minister Costas Simitis and visit the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday for talks with Greek businessmen.

    President Karimov will be accompanied by economic ministers and businessmen from his country who will hold talks with economic officials aimed at developing commercial and economic relations between the two countries.

    Mr. Karimov became finance minister in 1983 and deputy prime minister in 1986 and at the same time president of the state Programming Committee. On March 24, 1990, he was elected President of the Republic by Uzbekistan's Supreme Soviet and on December 2 9, 1991, he polled over 86 per cent of the vote in the first national presidential elections. In 1995 his period of office was renewed with a referendum until the year 2000.

    Over 21 per cent of the economically active population is employed in industry and in the sector of mineral wealth. The country has considerable deposits of oil, natural gas, gold, copper, tungsten, lead, coal and uranium. It is the world's seventh gold producer with 40 gold mines in operation and deposits estimated at four million tonnes. Uzbekistan is self- sufficient in the energy sector and is ranked among the 10 top countries in the world in relation to the natural gas deposits it possesses.

    About 40 per cent of the population lives off agriculture.

    Greece to take over handling of Bosnia transport unit

    Greece will take over from Belgium as of April 1 the administration of BELLUGA, the unit responsible for transport in Bosnia to supervise implementation of UN resolutions.

    The assumption of the Greek mission's new duties will take place at a special ceremony in Visoko tomorrow and will be attended by Army General Staff Chief Lieutenant-General Manousos Paragioudakis, as well as by his counterparts from Belgium, Austria and Luxembourg, namely the countries composing BELLUGA.

    The Greek mission will be strengthened with about 50 additional permanent members to enable it to meet its new commitments. Mr. Paragioudakis will leave for Bosnia at noon today.

    Bulgarian socialist leader in Athens

    Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov, who arrived in Athens yesterday on a four-day visit at the invitation of the ruling socialist PASOK party, will have talks with Greek party leaders and a series of meetings with PASOK Central Committee secretary Costas Skandalidis and other senior party officials.

    Mr. Parvanov is scheduled to meet main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, Communist Party of Greece Secretary-General Aleka Papariga, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos and Democratic Social Movement President Dimitris Tsovolas.

    Fundraising campaign for Bulgaria

    The Greek Radio Network (ERA), its 19 regional stations, the international non-governmental organisation "Doctors of the world" and the Greek Radio and TV (ERT) Staff Society will undertake a major fundraising campaign for Bulgaria.

    An on-the-spot survey revealed that sensitive sectors of the population such as orphans, elderly people, handicapped people and hospital patients are living below poverty levels in the troubled Balkan country.

    The situation has become dramatic in the wider region of Plovdiv where thousands of Bulgarians of Greek origin still live.

    Trade unionists warn of labour unrest

    Trade unionists in public utilities and the General Conferederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) have scheduled a press conference on Thursday, April 3, regarding what they view as government interference in the institution of free collective bargaining.

    They consider that the current impasse in ongoing negotiations with the management of several large state-run enterprises is due to government pressure, particularly by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, for pay increases not to exceed seven per cent, including remuneration for night shifts and overtime work. They claim that real increases amount to three to four per cent, and that the government's interference raises a political issue.

    Other outstanding issues are also currently fuelling a climate of confrontation with the government, such as the status of the social insurance fund for bank employees, deregulation in the power and telecommunications sectors according to EU directives, and modernisation programmes in the railways and the post office.

    The most militant trade unionists are threatening strike action, but particularly in view of the recent fruitless eight-week-long teachers' strike, the adoption of more 'flexible' forms of protest, which swell the financial cost for the utilities withou t causing a loss in wages, is considered more likely.

    Greek MPs meet with Australian colleagues

    An inter-party Parliamentary Committee arriving from Greece to participate in festivities marking the March 25 national holiday with the Australian- Greek community has held important contacts in Canberra.

    Greek deputies Avgerinos Petralias and Anestis Saatsoglou of PASOK and Evangelos Boutas of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) met with Australian colleagues who are members of the Australian Parliamentary Friendship Committee with Greece at the initiat ive of expatriate federal deputy of the ruling Liberal Party Petros Georgiou.

    They discussed the prospect of undertaking initiatives to improve relations between the two countries, particularly in the sectors of trade and finance, given that relations between Greece and Australia are excellent in all the other sectors.

    Australian deputies are expected to be invited by Greek Parliament to visit Greece soon.

    Greece and Cyprus examine ways to boost business in the Balkans

    Cypriot Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou arrived in Athens over the weekend at the head of a large delegation to participate in the third meeting of the special Greece-Cyprus coordinating committee for economic, industrial and technological co operation.

    Mr. Christodoulou will co-chair the meeting with his Greek counterpart, Yiannos Papantoniou.

    The symposium, organised by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Union of Chambers in Greece, will examine the entire spectrum of bilateral cooperation and review progress in a number of areas in which joint action has already been agreed and is being implemented.

    The meeting will also be addressed by Cyprus Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Kyriakos Christofi who will speak on "Cyprus as a business centre in the Middle East and as a transit point for trade transactions."

    About 400 delegates from Greece and Cyprus will study ways of boosting cooperation with Black Sea, Balkan and Middle Eastern countries.

    In Nicosia, Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry President, Vasilis Rologis, said Greek and Cypriot companies can penetrate the Balkan markets and can avoid double taxation as a result of agreements signed between Cyprus and numerous eastern European countries.

    Mr. Rologis said agreements signed with countries, including Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Serbia, will allow Greek and Cypriot-owned companies to avoid double taxation once they have entered the Balkan market.

    WEATHER

    Unstable weather throughout Greece today with local cloudiness, rainfall and rainstorms, but also spells of sunshine. Rain and snowfall in the mountainous regions of northern Greece. Winds will be strong to moderate. Athens will be sunny to cloudy with possible rainfall later in the day and temperatures between 7-13C. Thessaloniki will be overcast and rainy with temperatures between 3-7C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 262.959 Pound sterling 429.476 Cyprus pd 524.391 French franc 46.600 Swiss franc 181.655 German mark 156.934 Italian lira (100) 15.721 Yen (100) 212.814 Canadian dlr. 190.444 Australian dlr. 206.276 Irish Punt 414.755 Belgian franc 7.607 Finnish mark 52.856 Dutch guilder 139.574 Danish kr. 41.212 Swedish kr. 34.851 Norwegian kr. 39.615 Austrian sch. 22.303 Spanish peseta 1.853 Portuguese escudo 1.548

    (C.E.)


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