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Athens News Agency: News in English, 97-04-02

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, 02/04/1997 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece, Uzbekistan sign several bilateral agreements
  • Albanian premier in Athens today
  • Fino: Tirana will foster new climate in relations with Athens
  • Ellis awards to several Greek-Americans
  • Social insurance sector in crisis
  • Initial reports cite new inflation drop
  • Athens, Montreal to become sister cities

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Greece, Uzbekistan sign several bilateral agreements

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and visiting Uzbek President Islam Karimov yesterday signed a bilateral friendship and cooperation accord as well as six separate agreements related to a number of sectors during a more than one hour meeting.

    The six agreements provide for cooperation in tourism, education, training, technology, culture and the avoidance of double taxation. Mr. Karimov arrived in Athens Monday afternoon for an official two-day visit at the invitation of President of th e Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Simitis referred to the longstanding cultural ties linking the two countries.

    Stressing the need for the further development and the strengthening of Greece's relations with all the countries of central Asia, Mr. Simitis described the agreements as a "springboard" for closer ties and cooperation between Athens and Tashkent.

    The premier said that peace and friendship accord was based on the principles of respect for international law and international treaties as well as the territorial integrity of states.

    Describing his talks with Mr. Simitis as "fruitful and constructive", Mr. Karimov referred to the two countries' common cultural ties, noting that archaeological finds had proven the presence of the ancient Hellenistic kingdom of Bactria in the region.

    Turning to the two countries' modern history, Mr. Karimov spoke of the tens of thousands of Greek political refugees who settled in Uzbekistan after the Greek civil war.

    He said the majority of these refugees had since returned to Greece with fond memories of their life in Uzbekistan, noting that approximately 10,000 ethnic Greeks currently live in that nation.

    Mr. Karimov said he had ascertained during his talks in Greece that there was plenty of room for the further strengthening of bilateral relations, since there were no issues on which the views of Athens and Tashkent diverged.

    Uzbekistan, he added, was interested in broadening its relations not only with Greece but also with the European Union with which his country had signed a cooperation agreement.

    Mr. Karimov said he attached particular importance to his visit to Greece, given that the legal basis had been created for the further development of bilateral relations. With respect to bilateral cooperation, Mr. Karimov stressed the opportunities opening up in the agricultural sector, the processing of farm products, textiles, light industry, electronics, computerisation, transport, communications and tourism.

    Prospects for expanding bilateral relations were also discussed by Mr. Karimov and President Stephanopoulos earlier yesterday.

    Interest in Greek olive oil

    Later, Mr. Stephanopoulos expressed his satisfaction at the visit of his Uzbek counterpart and the signing of seven agreements, during an official dinner in Mr. Karimov's honour.

    During his speech, Mr. Stephanopoulos spoke of Greek national issues and criticised Turkey's policy in the Aegean and Cyprus, and also referred to the framework of the apparent improvement in Greek relations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    "The general policy of neighbouring Turkey, which refuses to accept the Aegean's international legal status and doubts Greece's sovereign rights, causes us concern over the maintenance of peace and stability in our broader region," he continued.

    Mr Stephanopoulos also spoke of the situation in the Balkans, noting that Greece "seeks peace, friendship and cooperation with its neighbours in the Balkans in order for this sensitive region to be a zone of excellent cohabitation, with no sites of tension."

    The Uzbek president also visited the Elais foodstuffs company plant yesterday, in view of a possible agreement for expanding the company's activities in the former Soviet republic.

    Mr. Karimov suggested units similar to the Elais plant be constructed in his country, in a project estimated to be worth roughly US$30 million.

    As a first step Mr. Karimov proposed an Elais branch of olive oil products, which the company specialises in, be opened in Uzbekistan with a simultaneous publicity campaign for olive oil, as well as the selling of a mixture of cottonseed oil - widely used in the country -- and olive oil.

    Albanian premier in Athens today

    Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino arrives today in Athens for talks with the Greek government concerning the ongoing crisis in the neighbouring country as well as possible solutions.

    Mr. Fino, who is heading a high-level Albanian government delegation, will meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and other government officials.

    Meanwhile, special OSCE envoy for Albania, former Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitzky, will also be in Athens today for talks on the forthcoming deployment of the multinational force in the crisis-racked country.

    The United Nations 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 the strife-ridden country. Greece will be participating in the force with about 700 troops. Other countries which will contribute contingents are Italy, France, Spain, Hungary, Romania and Turkey.

    Sources later said that three battalions stationed in northern Greece were alerted and prepared to leave for Albania, as Greece's contribution to the multinational force in the neighbouring country.

    Fino: Tirana will foster new climate of relations with Athens

    Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino promised the Greek Consul General in Gjirocaster, Nikolaos Kanellos, yesterday that his national reconciliation government will create a new climate in relations with Greece.

    He also appeared optimistic as regards the results of his visit to Athens today.

    Mr. Fino said there were no preconceptions regarding the distribution of a multinational force in his country, adding that no representative of insurgents had expressed opposition to the deployment of such a force in the south of Albania.

    Ellis Awards to several Greek-Americans

    Archbishop of America Spyridon and more than a dozen other Greek-Americans who have distinguished themselves for their national, social, charitable and business activities will receive this year's Ellis Island Awards.

    The awards are given annually since 1986 by the National Coalition of Nationalities for remembrance of the thousands of immigrants who landed on the island before being admitted to the United States.

    This year's Greek-American recipients include Proini publishers Nikos Mougiaris and Panikos Papanikolaou, the first as member of World Association of America, and the second as president of the Cypriot Federation of America. Also to receive awards are b usinessman Savvas Tsivikos, and the honourary Cypriot Consul in Los Angeles, Andreas Cyprianidis.

    Social insurance sector in crisis

    Social security fund employees yesterday charged that Greece was in last place among European Union countries concerning the percentage of state funding allocated to social insurance.

    Speaking on the second day of the 14th Conference of the Panhellenic Federation of Employees of Social Policy Organisations (POPOKP), fund employees said that the clear drop in pensions in correlation to contributions, which had increased, according to data for the period 1989-1996, together with the operating deficit of social security in 1996, was the result of widescale contributions evasion, shoddy administration of fund reserves and reduced state funding of Social Policy Organisations.

    POPOKP President Yiannis Koutroumanis told the ANA that any measures taken by the government to tackle the problems of social security should not be in the direction of reducing pensions, raising retirement ages and increasing contributions.

    General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) Secretary for Social Policy, Stephanos Laimos, told the conference that measures should be taken "to restructure the entire system" in order to tackle the "serious" problems of Social Policy Organisation s.

    Initial reports cite new drop in inflation

    The annual inflation rate in March fell to between 6.2 and 6.3 per cent from 6.6 per cent in February, according to assessments made by officials based on initial indications.

    Final figures are expected to be publicised in the middle of next week when final assessments will have been made.

    The officials also assess that if the downward trend continues, inflation will fall to levels below 6 per cent at the beginning of the summer. The government's target for all of 1997 is 4.5 per cent compared to 7.5 per cent in 1996.

    Cyprus' advantages as financial centre extolled

    Cyprus has slowly become a trade and financial centre for many foreign companies because of the tax and economic advantages it offers, according to Cyprus' ambassador to Greece Haralambos Christoforou.

    Mr. Christoforou made the statements at a conference organised yesterday by the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO) and the Cypriot firm Totalserve Management Hellas.

    According to a Totalserve announcement, the conference was aimed at briefing HEPO members on the benefits they achieve from using Cypriot offshore companies, combined with the 26 inter-state tax agreements Cyprus provides. Totalserve has been active in Greece for a year.

    Athens, Montreal to become sister cities

    Athens and Montreal will become sister cities in September after the signing of a special protocol of cooperation in the Greek capital, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos announced yesterday.

    Mr. Avramopoulos is visiting the Canadian city to attend celebrations marking the March 25 national holiday, on the invitation of the Montreal Greek community and Mayor Pierre Bourke.

    Mr. Avramopoulos said the protocol would refer to cultural and economic exchanges and investment programmes, designed to boost ties between the two municipalities and the Canadian city's Greek community.

    The Athens mayor said he received "moral support" for Athens 2004 Olympic Games bid from his Montreal counterpart.

    Mr. Avramopoulos left for New York last night where he is to have talks with Greek-American community leaders and, from there, travel to Boston.

    Greek, Egyptian labour talks

    Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou met in Athens yesterday with Egyptian Labour and Employment Minister Ahmed Ahmed el- Amawi.

    During the meeting, which was also attended by Labour Undersecretary Christos Protopapas and his Egyptian counterpart, issues discussed included labour and social security matters concerning ethnic Greeks in Egypt and Egyptian workers in Greece.

    WEATHER

    Unstable weather continues for the third consecutive day in most parts of Greece with local cloudiness, sunny spells. Rain and snowfall in the mountainous regions especially in the north. Athens will be sunny to partly cloudy with local drizzle and a possible storm with temperatures between 5- 15C. Thesssaloniki will be overcast with possible rain and temperatures between 3-10C.

    SPORTS

    Olympiakos advances to final four

    Olympiakos, Piraeus beat cross-town rival Panathinaikos, Athens last night 65-57 in the second game of the best-of-three series for the European basketball league. Olympiakos now advances to the final four round in Rome. The Piraeus team won the second ga me on its home court, while last week it beat Panathinaikos 69-49 away.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 262.920 Pound sterling 432.254 Cyprus pd 53.101 French franc 46.703 Swiss franc 182.225 German mark 157.381 Italian lira (100) 15.742 Yen (100) 212.615 Canadian dlr. 189.472 Australian dlr. 207.130 Irish Punt 417.235 Belgian franc 7.626 Finnish mark 52.889 Dutch guilder 139.966 Danish kr. 41.309 Swedish kr. 34.704 Norwegian kr. 39.430 Austrian sch. 22.360 Spanish peseta 1.856 Portuguese escudo 1.566

    (C.E.)


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