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
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
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
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
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-
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.
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
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.
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