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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-04-15

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, 15/04/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Greece to propose initiatives for Euro-Mediterranean cooperation
  • Government unveils blueprint on social dialogue
  • Greece Cyprus military exercise to go ahead
  • Greek support for Bulgaria's NATO accession reiterated
  • Bulgarian FM to hold talks in Athens
  • Albanian FM thanks Greece for recent support
  • Bundestag fact-finding delegation meets with Ecumenical Patriarch
  • Iranian FM attends Independence Day ceremony at Greek embassy
  • Women's meeting on peace ends on Lesvos
  • Conference of young parliamentarians on Rhodes
  • Premier stresses efforts to improve tourism
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece to propose initiatives for Euro-Mediterranean cooperation

Greece is to propose several important initiatives for the development of cooperation between European Union countries and 12 Mediterranean nations at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Ministers, which opens today in Valletta, Malta.

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who represents Greece at the conference, told the press yesterday that Athens will propose the convening of an informal meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Conference - probably on a Greek island.

Greece, he said, is also expected to play a significant role in the beginning of a dialogue on religion in the Mediterranean as part of a cultural cooperation between the 15 EU member-states and the 12 non-EU Mediterranean states.

Mr. Papandreou said this would open a "new significant level of initiatives in Euro-Mediterranean cooperation".

Greece's role, he said, focuses on a dialogue between Orthodoxy and Islam.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece would be invited to begin talks on these issues, he added.

He said the spirit of cooperation among Mediterranean countries had begun with the EU summit on Corfu during the Greek presidency in 1994, and was bolstered in Barcelona, at which it was decided that cooperation should centre on three axes: economic and institutional issues, culture and society as well as security.

Replying to questions, he said that the Middle East issue (Israel and the Palestinian areas) will not constitute a main issue at the Euro-Mediterranean Conference because the EU had decided to have Euro-Mediterranean cooperation promoted regardless of discussions between the two sides.

Gov't unveils blueprint on social dialogue

The government yesterday unveiled a 19-point blueprint with the topics of the proposed social dialogue on economic, investment and labour policy.

The text was sent to trade unions, agricultural organisations, local government, the Federation of Greek Industry (SEB), merchants and small manufacturers organisations, banks, chambers etc, in the form of a letter by the ministers of National Economy, Yiannos Papantoniou, and Labour and Social Security, Miltiades Papaioannou.

It includes topics such as securing real incomes under conditions of low inflation, changes in investmet incentives, developmental criteria for ailing enterprises, the promotion of efficiency in the public sector, work time and part-time employment, for eign workers, and employent policy in the European Union.

The stated aims of the dialogue include participation in the Economic and Monetary Union of the EU in time, control of profiteering, the introduction of the principle of 'funding investmenst on basis of attaining targets', strong economic presence and cooperation in the Balkans, quality and efficiency control of training programmes, privatisation of ailing enterprises, wage increases on the basis of an inflation plus national productivity clause, and the linking of new forms of work with social securi ty systems.

Greece-Cyprus military exercise to go ahead

The "Toxotis" combined military exercise between Greece and Cyprus will go ahead as planned in early May, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

Greek support for Bulgaria`s NATO accession reiterated

Greece unconditionally supports Bulgaria's admission to NATO, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said following a meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Ananiev, here yesterday.

The two ministers had a working meeting at the Bulgarian border town of Sandanski, while Bulgarian caretaker Foreign Minister Stoyan Stalev arrived yesterday in Athens for talks with his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos and Premier Costas Simitis.

In Sandanski, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos told his Bulgarian counterpart during a 90- minute meeting that Athens unreservedly supported Bulgaria's accession to NATO.

It was also announced after the meeting that Greece and Bulgaria would in the near future sign a military economic cooperation agreement. According to sources, the Greek side proposed that a contingent of the Bulgarian army's medical corps participate in the multinational protection force approved for Albania.

Mr. Ananiev deferred the issue until after elections and the formation of a new parliament in Bulgaria.

Bulgarian FM to hold talks in Athens

Mr. Stalev's visit to Greece comes after an invitation from Mr. Pangalos. The talks in Athens will centre on Bulgaria's desire to join NATO and the European Union, bilateral trade relations and cross-border programmes.

Mr. Stalev will also meet President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis and visit Thessaloniki.

In a statement at Sofia Airport before leaving for Greece, Mr. Stalev said "Greece, being simultaneously a member of the European Union and NATO, is a particularly important partner for Bulgaria and we will seek Greek support in connection with the future enlargement of these two organisations."

Referring to his visit to Greece, he said it is "part of a series of talks related to the priorities of Bulgaria's foreign policy."

Mr. Stalev said there is a need to intensify cooperation on attracting investments, fighting crime, accelerating work to open new border crossings and a slackening of the procedures governing entrance visas into Greece.

Albanian FM Starova thanks Greece for recent support

Albanian Foreign Minister Arjan Starova has addressed a letter to his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos expressing Tirana's gratitude for the aid and support offered so far by the Greek government.

Mr. Pangalos had sent a letter to Mr. Starova on March 28 listing the efforts being made by Athens to enable Albania to tackle the severe political crisis in the neighbouring country.

Mr. Starova stresses in his letter that the national reconciliation government of Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino "is making every possible effort to implement in practice the platform of national reconciliation planned by (Albanian) President (Sal i) Berisha, and approved by Albania's 10 most important parties, and we ascertain with satisfaction that the internal situation in Albania is showing some improvement and is moving ahead."

The Albanian foreign minister also expressed his appreciation for support given to his country by Greece, both at bilateral and international level, and for its readiness to be included in the international force to be sent to Albania.

Bundestag fact-finding delegation meets with Patriarch

A seven-member German Bundestag delegation currently visiting Turkey to examine that nation's human rights situation visited Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos yesterday for talks on problems faced by the Patriarchate.

The German deputies, headed by Irmgard Schwaetzer, said afterwards that the reports they will prepare and submit to both the Bundestag and the Bonn government will detail problems faced by the Greek minority and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. They also criticised the continuing refusal of Ankara to grant a licence for the Halki Theology School to reopen.

Apart from the issue of Halki, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its charitable foundations are also experiencing administrative pressures lately. The prosecution of the Metropolitan of Laodikia for attending a church service in an ethnic Orthodox Bulgarian parish in the city underlined such pressures.

In addition, the German deputies said that Turkey was not honouring promises it has given on human rights, adding that disappearances of individuals held in detention are continuing; suspicious murders still take place with unidentified perpetrators, while the ill-treatment of prison inmates and prisoners held in custody is continuing.

Iranian FM attends Independence Day ceremony at Greek embassy

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati attended the Greek Independence Day ceremony at the Greek embassy in Tehran on Sunday.

At the ceremony, Mr. Velayati and Greek ambassador Dimitris Tsikouris exchanged views on promotion of bilateral and multilateral cooperation at the international level, as well as the deepening of the ties between Athens and Tehran.

The two officials also focused on expansion of cooperation between Iran, Greece, Georgia and Armenia.

A Greek embassy official stated that Athens has clearly announced its stance in matters related to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The independence day reception was held on Sunday and not on March 25, due to the long Islamic New Year holidays in Iran.

Women's meeting on peace ends on Lesvos

"The defence of peace is nothing but the defence of life which we, women, give birth to," according to a resolution issued at the end of a three-day meeting of women from the Greek islands of Lesvos, Hios and Samos, and their counterparts on the opposite Turkish coast.

During the meeting, which ended on Lesvos yesterday, there was an exchange of views on issues of peace, work, and education. The resolution called on "the governments of the two countries to improve the political climate and solve existing problems, wit hout foreign interventions, through talks, and on the assumption of respect for international agreements, treaties and borders, as determined after World War II." The women taking part also stated their opposition to proliferation of armaments, the perpet uation of hostile relations as especially cultivated through school books.

Conference of young parliamentarians on Rhodes

A conference of young parliamentarians, including representatives from the European Union and the Council of Europe, is continuing on Rhodes with discussions on issues concerning peace and economic cooperation between eastern Mediterranean countries.

Representatives of Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian self-rule areas and Cyprus expressed concern over the situation prevailing in the Middle East and the Aegean and criticised Israel and Turkey.

The Palestinian representative said "Israel is a bulldozer which is digging away at the foundations of peace in the region" and is not implementing agreements which have been signed.

The representative of Cyprus referred to the absence of the Turkish Cypriot community from the conference and the continuing Turkish occupation on the island for the past 23 years.

The conference is attended by representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Malta, Israel, the Palestinian authority, Cyprus and Greece, as well as observers from Russia.

Premier stresses efforts to improve tourism

Efforts to improve services in the tourism industry, including protection of the environment and its features particular to Greece, were announced by Prime Minister Costas Simitis during a visit to the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) yesterday.

"Our objective," he said, "is to offer foreigners an attractive environment and at the same time improve the competitiveness of Greek tourism on an international level."

Emphasis will also be given to to necessary structural changes, particularly by promoting alternative forms of tourism such as eco-tourism and trekking, in order to extend the tourist season.

At the same time, the Prime Minister expressed full support for Development Minist er Vasso Papandreou's decision to rescind the Flisvos casino licence and ruled out the possibility of the government paying compensation to the casino consortium which is seeking resource to justice.

Mr. Simitis said the cabinet would soon discuss and table a bill in Parliament formally rescinding the Flisvos licence.

The same bill, he said, would provide for stricter controls of private casinos already operating in the country, while legislation will be introduced renewing the state's control of the Mt. Parnes casino, assigning its management to the private sector a nd offering a minority share package.

Mr. Simitis stressed that "casinos do not constitute a linchpin for development and moreover create social problems."

This, he added, was why licences had not eventually been granted for the operation of casinos in Epirus and Doirani, as had initially been planned.

WEATHER

Fine weather with a slight rise in temperatures expected for most parts of Greece today but is expected to change in the evening turning to cloudy with local rainfall starting in the north and the Ionian islands. Athens will be mostly sunny with temperatures between 3-15C. Same for Thessaloniki with temperatures between 0-12C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 268.534 Pound sterling 435.984 Cyprus pd 525.562 French franc 46.350 Swiss franc 182.984 German mark 155.863 Italian lira (100) 15.844 Yen (100) 212.209 Canadian dlr. 192.111 Australian dlr. 209.307 Irish Punt 416.045 Belgian franc 7.556 Finnish mark 52.120 Dutch guilder 138.642 Danish kr. 40.924 Swedish kr. 35.194 Norwegian kr. 38.569 Austrian sch. 22.141 Spanish peseta 1.851 Portuguese escudo 1.560

(C.E.)


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