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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

  • Albanian PM Fino arrives in Athens for talks
  • Dutch FM to meet Greek officials, Fino in Athens
  • Uzbek President supports Greece over Aegean, Cyprus issues
  • Archaeological Council rejects Branson hotel complex plans
  • Balkan parties to attend European socialist conference
  • European youth ministers meet
  • Social insurance sector in crisis
  • Initial reports cite new inflation drop
  • Cyprus' advantages as financial centre extolled
  • Athens, Montreal to become sister cities
  • Weather
  • Olympiakos in final four
  • Foreign exchange

    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 said today.

    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 reservations.

    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 Greece.

    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 last night.

    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 create jobs.

    "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 Balkans.

    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- development-society''.

    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 Eurodeputies.

    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 (Cyprus).

    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 new Europe''.

    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 matters.

    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 Sweden.

    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 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.

    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.

    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.

    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

    (M.P.)


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