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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

  • Uzbekistan, Greece look at potential for wider bilateral relations
  • Gov't determined to stick to 1997 budget targets
  • Stationing of Albanian contingents still to be decided
  • Communist Party protests to Italy over Albanian drowning accident
  • Top brass to attend Economist conference
  • Greek arrested in possession of stolen travellers cheques
  • Dutch FM Van Mierlo in Athens on Thursday
  • Santer in Athens in early May
  • FYROM-Greece border post to be upgraded
  • Citibank reduces lending rates
  • Breast cancer rates increase in Greece
  • Conference on women's role in Balkan development

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Uzbekistan, Greece look at potential for wider bilateral relations

    Prospects for expanding bilateral relations were discussed by President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov and President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos this morning. Karimov is on a two-day visit to Greece in which seven cooperation agreements are to be signed.

    The Greek president drew attention to Uzbekistan's 10,000-strong Greek coummunity, whose repesentative is accompanying Karimov on his visit to Greece. Stephanopoulos urged Greek business firms to promote economic relations with the Central Asian nation, which he said was a "politically and economically stable" country.

    His Uzbek counterpart referred to the opportunities being offered to improve bilateral relations, since "there were no issues" on which the two countries disagreed. He expressed support for Greece's policy of peace in the Balkans and the broader region, one which he said reflected his own country's policy in Central Asia, adding that bilateral relations could form a bridge between the two regions.

    Stephanopoulos accepted an invitation extended by Karimov to visit Uzbekistan.

    Agreements to be signed later today by the Uzbek President and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis focus in particular on trade relations (avoidance of double taxation), but also concern the economy, technology, education, culture, tourism and professional training. President Karimov has asked for an increase in the number of Olympic Airways flights to Tashkent to help increase trade and tourism.

    Gov't determined to stick to 1997 budget targets

    Finance Undersecretary George Drys told reporters in Thessaloniki today that the government was determined to stick to the state budget for 1997, despite demands for higher pay anticipated from public utility workers.

    ''The government's incomes policy has been precisely determined by the budget,'' Drys said in reply to questions.

    Asked whether the government was preparing a bill providing for harsher penalties for tax evaders, Drys replied in the negative, adding however that what the government had was the findings of a Finance Ministry committee on the subject.

    In addition, he did not rule out the tabling of such a bill sometime in the future, explaining that he had not yet studied the committee's findings.

    ''Those who commit financial crimes must be aware that there is a place in prison for them too,'' Drys said.

    Stationing of Albanian contingents still to be decided

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said today that the locations in Albania for the stationing of the contingents making up the multinational security force was a matter to be decided by the countries participating in the force.

    Replying to reporters questions, Papandreou stressed that from the outset, Greece had not set as a condition for participating in the force that Athens would decide where its contingent was to be stationed.

    He said however that Greece had proposed it be based in central Albania ''where we could make a particularly important contribution''.

    Papandreou added that this position reflected the responsibility with which Athens was confronting the issue of the ethnic Greek minority -- the majority of which lives in southern Albania -- and Greek-Albanian relations in general.

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

    Greece will be participating in the force with about 700 troops. The other countries which will contribute contingents are Italy, France, Spain, Hungary, Romania and Turkey.

    Communist Party protests to Italy over Albanian drowning accident

    A Communist Party of Greece (KKE) delegation today handed the Italian Embassy in Athens a protest ''over the (Italian) naval blockade and ramming by an Italian naval vessel of the Albanian patrol boat which cost the lives of dozens of people''.

    ''This act coincides with the decision for open imperialistic intervention by the military forces of the NATO member-states, such as Greece, Italy, Turkey and a number of other countries. A decision which supports a corrupt, terrorist, dictatorial regime and which inter alia violates the fundamental principle of the United Nations concerning the non-despatch of military forces by neighbouring countries,'' the protest said.

    The KKE charged that the sinking of the Albanian refugee boat, in which about 80 people are believed to have died, and the ''naval blockade'' against Albania ''contravene all UN provisions regarding basic human rights and particularly the granting of asylum''.

    Top brass to attend Economist conference

    Greece's political leaders are to be keynote speakers at a round-table conference to be held in Athens on 7, 8 and 9 April in "The Economist Conferences" series.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, the main opposition New Democracy party's new leader Kostas Karamanlis and Germany's former Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher are to address the conference which is to centre on the Greece's economic convergence programme, trade and industrial policy, major infrastructure projects and privatisations. Other issues will include investment incentives, the role of the Greek banking system, with emphasis on Greece's foreign policy and its trade and economic relations with the Balkans and Asia.

    Other participants include former Cypriot President George Vassiliou, former European Economic and Social Committee president Carlos Ferrer, National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Bank of Greece Governor Loukas Papadimos.

    Greek arrested in possession of stolen travellers cheques

    A Greek man who had lived in South Africa for many years tried to cash stolen travellers cheques worth about 19 million drachmas in Thessaloniki.

    Charalambos Sfairopoulos, 37, tried to cash 500 cheques of Visa-First National Bank in denominations of 50 and 100 pounds sterling, of a total value of 42,500 pounds, at a foreign exchange office in the northern port city yesterday.

    Ascertaining that the cheques were stolen, the cashier at the office notified the police who arested Sfairopoulos.

    He told police that while working in Johannesburg as an employee at the American Express Bank, he had bought the travellers cheques from a colleague.

    Sfairopoulos said he had bought more travellers cheques from the same person worth a total of 20,000 pounds sterling, without explaining to police what he done with them.

    Thessaloniki police have requested Interpol's assistance in the case to determine whether Sfairopoulos was acting alone or is a member of a gang operating internationally.

    Dutch FM 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Thessaloniki hosts conference on women's role in Balkan development

    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.

    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

    (M.P.)


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