NEWS IN DETAIL
Albanian PM Fino arrives in Athens for talks
Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino arrived by helicopter in Ioannina,
northern Greece today and shortly afterwards boarded a special Olympic
Airways flight for Athens for two days of talks with the Greek leadership
on the Albanian crisis.
Speaking on his arrival in |oannina, the Albanian premier expressed
pleasure at the Greek government's invitation.
Fino is to is to meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis shortly after his
arrival in Athens. Also expected in the Greek capital today are the special
envoy of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),
former Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitsky and European Union Council
president, Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van Mierlo.
Early this evening, Fino is to have meetings with President of the Republic
Kostis Stephanopoulos and Foreign Undersecretary Yannos Kranidiotis.
Before leaving the southern Albanian town of Gjirokaster this morning, Fino
said he hoped the visit would mark the beginning of a new phase in Greek-
Albanian relations, adding that the ethnic Greek minority in southern
Albania could become a bridge of friendship between the two countries.
The Albanian Prime Minister is accompanied by the Ministers for Finance,
Trade, Industry and the Interior.
Dutch FM to meet Greek officials, Fino in Athens
The government does not know what issues will be raised by the Dutch
President of the EU Council of Ministers, Hans van Mierlo, during his talks
in Athens on Thursday prior to visiting Ankara, spokesman Dimitris Reppas
Reppas added however that it was likely that van Mierlo would want to raise
the issue of the EU financial protocol for Turkey and the lifting of Greek
Replying to reporters' questions, Reppas said no proposal had been put to
Greece concerning the formation of a committee of experts to examine
problems between Greece and Turkey.
Reppas said later that van Mierlo would be participating in a meeting in
Athens tomorrow on the crisis in neighbouring Albania, to be attended also
by the leadership of the Greek foreign ministry, Albanian Premier Bashkim
Fino and OSCE envoy Franz Vranitsky.
The spokesman added that Vranitsky would be received by Prime Minister
Costas Simitis at 12.30 local time tomorrow.
Reppas said Vranitsky and van Mierlo had yesterday asked the Greek
government if they could participate in the talks on the Albanian crisis
''and the government had no reason to refuse this request''.
Uzbek President supports Greece over Aegean, Cyprus issues
President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov in a meeting today with Parliament
Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, expressed support for Greece's positions
regarding the Aegean and the Cyprus issue, saying the resolution of these
issues should be in accordance with international law.
Kaklamanis presented Karimov with the medal of the Greek Parliament and
accepted an invitation to visit Tashkent in the near future.
Mr. Karimov today invited Greek businessmen to consider the many opportunities
for investing in Uzbekistan and establishing closer commercial ties with
the central Asian republic.
During a 90-minute visit to the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
Karimov underlined the opportunities related to the exploitation of
Uzbekistan's vast mineral wealth, particularly its huge unexploited
reserves of gold, oil and natural gas.
Part of these resources, he added, could subsequently be imported by
Karimov also called on the Greek business world to use Tashkent as a
gateway to the broader region, not only for access to the other central
Asian countries of the former Soviet Union such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan,
Tadzhikistan and Kirgizia, but also neighbouring countries including India,
Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Other possible sectors of cooperation, Karimov said, were the processing of
agricultural products such as cotton, fruit and vegetables, the manufacture
of computers and banking cooperation.
Karimov and Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday signed a bilateral
friendship and cooperation accord as well as six separate agreements
related to a number of sectors ranging from tourism and technology to the
avoidance of double taxation.
This morning, the two countries commenced cooperation in the banking sector
with the signing of the first such agreement between the Commercial Bank of
Greece and the National Bank of Uzbekistan.
It is hoped that the accord will considerably facilitate business
transactions between the two countries.
Archaeological Council rejects Branson hotel complex plans
British businessman Richard Branson's plan to build a hotel complex on the
island of Hydra was turned down by Greece's Central Archaeological Council
However, the council gave Branson, owner of the Virgin group, the option of
presenting another proposal for a hotel within the town limits, as their
objection was not to the hotel itself but to the fact that it would spoil
the character of the site, which contains ruins of an ancient city.
The Council's decision was issued after a six-hour meeting last night,
during which the mayor of Hydra pleaded the case of island residents who
have petitioned in favour of the hotel complex as they say the project will
"The 2,600 citizens left on the island were distressed (at the decision),
believing that the state wanted them to leave their homes and to turn the
island into an empty archaeological site," the mayor said.
Citizens' representatives earlier told the council that Hydra needed the
hotel as it would give the island a much-needed injection of capital, and
create 100 permanent jobs and 300 summer jobs.
Balkan parties to attend European Socialist conference
The two-day European Socialist Party (ESP) conference which opens in
Thessaloniki on Friday will focus on issues of security, stability,
economic development and the creation of European institutions in the
For the first time, representatives of socialist, social democrat and
labour parties of all the Balkan countries have been invited to attend the
conference and present their positions on the political situations and
developments in the region.
Discussions at the conference, which is being organised with the assistance
of Greece's ruling PASOK party, will centre on the triptych ''peace-
On Friday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis will address the conference.
Speeches will also be delivered by ESP President Rudolf Scharping, Vice
President and Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and ESP General
Secretary Jean Francois Valen.
Other Greek speakers are expected to include Foreign Minister Theodoros
Pangalos, Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis and a number of PASOK
The parties of European and Balkan countries will be represented by Pauline
Green (Britain), Hans Fischer (Austria), Fatos Nano (Albania), Georgi
Pirinski (Bulgaria), Lupcho Popovski (FYROM) and Vasso Lyssarides
European youth ministers meet
An informal meeting of European Union ministers responsible for youth
issues was held today in Athens on the subject of ''Young Europeans in a
The aim of the meeting was to hold a broad-based discussion on youth policy
within the framework of the EU in view of the Intergovernmental Conference
(IGC), to which Greece has submitted a number of proposals on youth-related
The meeting, addressed among others by Education Minister Gerassimos
Arsenis, was attended by representatives from Austria, Belgium, France,
Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Arsenis stressed the need for
measures to be taken to secure jobs for young people in Europe.
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.
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 in 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