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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-04-01

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, 01/04/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Formation of Greek contingent for Albania underway
  • Athens backs joint Greek and Cypriot joint business ventures
  • Van Mierlo in Athens on Thursday
  • Uzbek President Karimov begins talks in Athens
  • Defence minister on official French visit
  • FYROM-Greece border post to be upgraded
  • Tourism promotion in the U.S.
  • Conference on women's role in Balkan development

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Formation of Greek contingent for Albania underway

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos clarified yesterday that the Greek contingent of the multinational police force to be sent to Albania would not be formed on a voluntary basis.

    Asked by reporters in Thessaloniki whether the contingent would be made up of volunteers, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos replied in the negative, adding that "there is a specific unit of the armed forces which, as soon as the relevant decisions have been taken and we have determined the size of the force to participate, will undertake its task as a constituent section of the armed forces."

    The United Nations on Friday gave the green light for the formation of a 5, 000-strong force, half of whom will be deployed and half of whom will be held in reserve to protect humanitarian relief operations in Albania.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that Greece would participate in the multinational force with about 700 troops.

    The president of the Albanian Democratic Alliance party, Miritan Ceka, yesterday visited Albanian nationals being treated in Ioannina hospital for bullet and shrapnel wounds.

    Mr. Ceka expressed thanks on behalf of the Albanian people for the Greek help and hospitalisation of the wounded, and his sorrow over the sinking of an Albanian ship by an Italian military vessel in the Adriatic.

    Athens backs joint Greek and Cypriot business ventures

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday underlined the government's intention to back joint ventures between Greek and Cypriot business activities in the Middle East and the Black Sea region.

    He said a Greek-Cypriot joint economic zone is promoted by both governments and is expected to be concluded by the year 2000.

    "We will harmonise the institutional regime and we will expand the activities of the Exporting Credit Insurance Organisation to Cyprus in a bid to help the creation of joint ventures in the Balkans," Mr. Papantoniou said in his address to the "Greek-Cypriot Business Symposium," held in Athens under the auspices the national economy ministry.

    Cypriot Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said that business cooperation between Greece and Cyprus was an "inevitable choice."

    He said cooperation between the two countries could focus in the service sector, in tourism and banking, constructions, through the establishment of joint ventures for the construction of insfrastructural works in the Balkans, the Black Sea region and the Arab countries, as well as in the sector of industrial output and industrial applications of renewable energy sources.

    Stressing the need to find venture capital to finance such cooperation, Mr. Christodoulou said both governments should turn to the banking sector in both countries, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and EU Community sources.

    Van Mierlo in Athens on Thursday

    Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo will visit Athens on Thursday and will meet with his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos and Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    Discussions are expected to cover a wide range of subjects, including European Union issues - in view of the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Amsterdam this weekend - as well as EU-Turkey and Greek-Turkish relations.

    The Netherlands currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

    According to sources, Mr. van Mierlo has said he is prepared to contribute to the resolution of Greek-Turkish differences and to provide his help.

    An EU-Turkey Association Council is due to take place on April 29.

    Uzbek President Karimov begins talks in Athens

    Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov arrived in Athens yesterday for an official two-day visit, which will witness the signing of a friendship and cooperation protocol between the two countries.

    Mr. Karimov is to meet privately with President Kostis Stephanopoulos early today and later with Prime Minister Costas Simitis for the signing of the protocol.

    He is also scheduled to meet with Greek businessmen and Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

    Defence minister on official French visit

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos is scheduled to leave on a two-day visit to France tomorrow, following an invitation extended by his French counterpart Charles Millon.

    Talks will be held on the same day, while he will also visit the Le Clerk tank factory. On Thursday, he is scheduled to visit an airbase, where he will observe a Mirage 2000/5 air display.

    Santer in Athens in early May

    European Commission President Jacques Santer will arrive in Athens on May 8 , on the occasion of celebrations for "Europe Day" on May 9 as well as the 40-year commemoration of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.

    Mr. Santer is scheduled to meet President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the leadership of the foreign ministry, and main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis.

    Discussions are expected to centre on foreign policy issues and the role of the EU in the broader region.

    Papaioannou: Immediate measures needed for social security system

    Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou told the 14th Conference of the Panhellenic Federation of Social Policy Organisations' employees that necessary action should be taken now in order to ensure the future viability of the nation's s ocial security system.

    Mr. Papaioannou said social dialogue was due to start in the next few days, and called on participants to submit proposals.

    At the same time he warned that the government would not wait for the conclusion of such dialogue in order to solve pending problems, such as fighting tax evasion.

    "Internationally, social security systems have been undergoing a deep crisis which resulted in huge deficits and limited their sources," Mr. Papaioannou said.

    He said this crisis was triggered from demographic changes and the aging of the general population, prolonged recession in the world economy, as well as increasing budget deficits and public debts.

    By the year 2050, Mr. Papaioannou said, half of Greece's economically active population will consist of over 65-year-old citizens.

    "The imminent problem we are faced with in Greece," the minister said, "is the settling of our social security funds. This will be overcome through the combatting of tax evasion, the establishment of a special mechanism to receive contributions, the merging of social security funds as well as the participation of the state."

    FYROM-Greece border post to be upgraded

    Finance Undersecretary George Drys yesterday announced the government's intention to upgrade the customs post at Evzones on the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    Mr. Drys visited the Evzones post early yesterday and spoke to customs officers about the problems they faced.

    Later, speaking to reporters at the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry in Thessaloniki, Mr. Drys said the government would take all the necessary measures for the upgrading of the customs post, traffic through which was continuously increasing following the impr ovement of relations between the two countries.

    The measures, he added, would include increasing the number of staff, improving equipment and the carrying out of a special study by the finance ministry in cooperation with Kilkis prefecture.

    Shoe manufacturing sector faces tough foreign competition

    One in two Greek shoe manufacturing units have shut down in the last five years as imports, mainly from Italy, have reportedly increased, accounting for 60 per cent of current sales.

    Those figures were released yesterday by the Association of Thessaloniki Shoe Manufacturers during a press conference on the occasion of the exhibition scheduled at HELEXPO's facilities between April 4-6.

    The domestic shoe manufacturing sector today comprises 3,000 units, which produce 12 million pairs of shoes annually (of which 5 million are exported to Europe, North America, Australia and the Far East), with a turnover of 50 to 60 billion drachmas.

    Greece's best customer is Russia, followed by Serbia.

    Citibank reduces lending rates

    Citibank yesterday announced that effective today and for one week it will decrease by 1.25 per cent its base lending rates for working capital loans and for freely investible funds, by 0.75 per cent its base lending rate for business and professional loans and by 3 per cent its base lending rate for personal installment loans with invoices, while maintaining unchanged its rest base lending rates.

    The basic lending rates of the working capital in foreign exchange for the same period are: US dollars 8.31 per cent; yen 3.06 per cent; deutschmarks 5.81 per cent; Ecu 6.75 per cent; Dutch guilders 5.85 per cent; French francs 5.87 per cent; Brit ish pounds 8.87 per cent; Swiss francs 4.44 per cent and Belgian francs 5.94 per cent.

    Tourism promotion in the US

    Seminars promoting Greece and organised by the Greek Tourist Organisation's (EOT) bureau in the United States will start in several major cities as of today in order to support this year's projected increase in the tourist flow from the United States.

    An integrated presentation of tourist destinations will be featured at the seminars, to be held in Atlanta, Boston, Washington, Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Dallas and Philadelphia.

    EOT's director in the US, Alexandros Mourkoyiannis, will be the main speaker, while representatives of airline companies and travel organisations will also participate.

    Breast cancer rates increase in Greece

    Breast cancer has increased dangerously over the past five years in Greece, medical researchers revealed.

    Specialists who held a press conference yesterday in view of the sixth Panhellenic Conference of Clinical Oncology said the five-year increase is estimated at around 10 per cent.

    The increase is not due to better methods of diagnosis, although no one particular cause can be pinpointed for this upturn. However, researchers said a change in lifestyle is almost certainly a factor, such as less attention being paid to nutrition, smo king, greater exposure to radiation and bearing children at an advanced age.

    Researchers noted that according to latest studies, women who have few children and become pregnant after the age of 30 are at much higher risk of developing breast cancer.

    Conference on women's role in Balkan development scheduled

    A conference entitled "The Role of Women in Regional Areas in the Development of the Balkans" will begin in Thessaloniki on Thursday with the participation of some 30 ministers from Balkan countries.

    It is the fifth international conference organised by the Federation of Inter-Balkan Cooperation Societies of Women of Thessaloniki.

    The conference is aimed at promoting the rights of women living in regional areas, their equal participation in decision-making, the undertaking of responsibilities and the enjoyment of economic and social results.

    According to initial official figures provided by organisers, women in the Balkans account for 60 per cent of agricultural labour and carry out more than two thirds of agricultural work.

    The conference, in which all Balkan states will participate, will be held in the Aristotelion University of Thessaloniki's ceremonial hall until April 7, and will be under the aegis of President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    WEATHER

    Unstable weather will continue throughout Greece today with local cloudiness, rainfall and rainstorms, but also spells of sunshine. Rain and snowfall in the mountainous regions of the country. Winds will be moderate. Sunny spells in Athens with local rain and temperatures between 5-15C. Overcast and rainy in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 3-10C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 263.743 Pound sterling 432.512 Cyprus pd 526.752 French franc 46.775 Swiss franc 182.176 German mark 157.440 Italian lira (100) 15.788 Yen (100) 212.933 Canadian dlr. 191.357 Australian dlr. 207.353 Irish Punt 416.640 Belgian franc 7.641 Finnish mark 53.106 Dutch guilder 140.194 Danish kr. 41.406 Swedish kr. 34.996 Norwegian kr. 39.775 Austrian sch. 22.405 Spanish peseta 1.869 Portuguese escudo 1.577

    (C.E.)


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