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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-05-01

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 01/05/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Double damper on May Day celebrations
  • Pangalos in Istanbul for BSEC summit
  • ND criticises government's stance on Greek-Turkish relations
  • Torrential rain in Athens causes extensive flooding
  • EU Commission President to visit Mt. Athos
  • Greek-Italian military coordination in Albania discussed
  • Public transport fares, mobile phone dues to increase
  • Eurostat service for media professionals
  • Men arrested for damaging car
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Double damper on May Day celebrations

Heavy rain washed out the May Day concert and parade in Athens planned to follow a rally outside the General Confederation of Trade Unions (GSEE) headquarters, while a separate rally held by ESAK, the union affiliated to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) took place in Syntagma Square, followed by a march to the Labour Ministry.

The GSEE rally, with the participation of the civil service union (ADEDY) and the Athens Labour Centre (EKA), was addressed by GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos and PASOK Central Committee Secretary Costas Skandalidis, who expressed regret over the separate celebrations, as did Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou. The Minister promised the government would stand by the workers and that it would make good its campaign promises by means of "social dialogue".

KKE leader Aleka Papariga said the "division" of this year's May Day events was unavoidable, saying that unions should express the needs of the working class and not mince their words.

"Workers remain united at grass-roots level and they should repel attacks, even those aimed at them via social dialogue," said Papariga.

Pangalos in Istanbul for BSEC summit

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos arrived in Istanbul yesterday from Luxembourg to attend a Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact meeting today, according to a report from the ANA's Istanbul correspondent.

Pangalos told reporters that he had a "substantial" meeting with his Turkish counterpart Tansu Ciller in Luxembourg, adding however that the discussion did not result in any progress towards satsifying conditions set by Pangalos for progress in Greek-Turkish relations.

"While there is life there is hope," added the Greek Minister, with regard to future prospects of talks with Turkey.

On her return to Istanbul from Luxembourg, the Turkish Foreign Minister said there was still some leeway for a step by step improvement in Greek- Turkish relations.

In statements to the Turkish press, Ciller said that Greece's veto continued to prevent the release of (EU) funds to Turkey, but that Turkey "could live without" the European aid package.

''We believe that the two countries will find the way to peaceful relations and cooperation which will be to the benefit of both peoples,'' Pangalos said after talks with Ciller, according to a later ANA despatch from Istanbul.

The meeting at an Istanbul hotel was held on the sidelines of the Black Sea regional cooperation forum.

Pangalos also reiterated Greece's belief that Turkey's place is in Europe.

The Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) meeting was attended by foreign ministers or senior ministry officials from the organisation's 11 member- states, namely Greece, Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Armenia.

ND criticises government's stance on Greek-Turkish relations

The government said yesterday that Turkey's inability to respond to Greece's proposal for dialogue subject to conditions illustrated the groundlessness of its claims and the aggressive nature of Ankara's foreign policy.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was replying to criticism from the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party concerning the government's stance on Greek-Turkish relations.

Reppas reiterated the prerequisites set by Athens for a Greek-Turkish dialogue, namely that Ankara rejects the use and threat of force, respects international law and international treaties and uses the procedures of the International Court at the Hague for the settlement of any differences.

Turkey's inability to respond to this proposal, Reppas said, illustrated the groundlessness of Ankara's claims.

Earlier, ND charged that the government was being enticed into a form of dialogue with Turkey without fulfilment of the prerequisites which the main opposition party has repeatedly urged.

''Greek reservations concerning the release of EU funds to Turkey are being neutralised by the formation of the committee of experts,'' ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said.

Greece and Turkey have agreed to appoint two non-governmental personalities each to examine Greek-Turkish relations. The agreement was announced in Luxembourg at the end of the EU-Turkey Association Council meeting at which Athens maintained its veto of EU financial aid to Turkey.

''A serious dialogue presupposes a credible interlocutor,'' Spiliotopoulos said, adding that ''the political instability and manifest confusion in Turkey evidence the existence of many and conflicting power centres in the neighbouring country''.

As a result, Spiliotopoulos said, the Greek government did not know which centre would guarantee Ankara's adherence to any obligations it might undertake.

Reppas countered saying it was ''ridiculous'' for ND to play the role of accuser because ''when it was in power (1990-1993), its leadership and cadres proclaimed the need for Greek-Turkish dialogue without any terms and prerequisites''.

The spokesman clarified that the ''committee of experts'' to be formed would deal only with procedural matters and its findings would not be binding on either side.

''The operation of the committee does not constitute political dialogue, nor any kind of negotiation whatsoever. On the contary, it constitutes an effective way to reveal Turkey's policy and confront it in a determined and substantiated manner,'' Reppas said.

''We hope however that the process will prove to be beneficial for both countries, provided Turkey adapts itself to the principles of the EU and international law and order,'' he added.

Torrential rain in Athens causes extensive flooding

Torrential rain in Athens over the past two days caused flooding of basement flats and stores and put traffic lights out of order on a number of streets in the capital.

Worst hit yesterday were the suburbs of Glyfada, Voula, Ilioupolis and Argyroupolis, where the level of water on many streets was over 40 centimetres.

The fire brigade received dozens of calls for assistance, provided by ten teams of firemen.

In the seaside suburb of Voula, drains quickly became blocked, causing extensive flooding of roads which immobilized many cars. Traffic chaos in the district was made worse by the fact that traffic lights at many junctions malfunctioned.

The rain was also responsible for a pile-up in Kifissos involving three trucks and three cars. Fortunately no one was injured.

EU Commission President to visit Mt. Athos

European Commission President Jacques Santer is to visit the monastic community of Mt. Athos at the end of next week. According to sources in Thessaloniki, Santer is to fly to Karyes by helicopter on 10 May accompanied by National Economy Undersecretary Christos Pachtas, and possibly by Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis.

There are currently three EU-funded programmes in progress at Mt. Athos for the maintenance and repair of the historic buildings. The provisional programme for Santer's visit includes a meeting with members of the community and a tour of the Megisti Lavra and Vatopedi monasteries.

Santer's visit to Greece is scheduled to coincide with events celebrating "Europe Day", which he will be attending for the first time. On May 9, 1950, then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman began the process that led to the creation of the European Union.

Also on May 9, Santer is to address the general assembly of the Industrialists Association of Northern Greece.

Greek-Italian military coordination in Albania discussed

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Tuesday discussed cooperation and coordination in efforts between Greece and Italy in Albania with his Italian counterpart, Beniamino Andreata.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the meeting provided the opportunity for the terms of a successful cooperation to be discussed regarding the effectiveness of the multinational force in Albania and, in parallel, confirmation of the good cooperation between the military forces of Greece and Italy in the common effort in Albania.

"We ascertained the need for closer cooperation to enable us to contribute to the success of the targets of the European Union and the OSCE, concerning the successful holding of elections in Albania," he said.

Public transport fares, mobile phone dues to increase

Taxi fares, mobile telephone and postage dues, railway and bus tickets will increase over the next two months.

Specifically, increases of up to 50 per cent (in summoning radio taxis) will take effect for taxi fares as of today. The single tariff will increase to 62 drachmas from 58 and the double tariff to 200 from 113. The largest increase will concern calls for radio taxis, with an ordinary call increasing to 300 drachmas from 200, while a pre-arranged appointment rises to 400 drachmas from 300.

The starting price (200 drachmas), the chronometrical cost (2,000) and fares from airports and ports (300) remain unchanged.

Additionally, a fare from bus and railway stations will decrease to 150 drachmas from 160 as well as the cost for carrying luggage exceeding 10kg to 50 drachmas from 55.

As of tomorrow, mobile telephony dues (the average increase will be about 4 per cent) for the mobile telephony supplier Telestet will also increase.

Similar increases will also apply for the mobile telephony dues of the Panafon firm, as of May 12.

Lastly, at peak hours for the "City" package, local calls will be charged 84 drachmas per minute (from 80); national calls 250 drachmas per minute; from one mobile phone to a mobile phone 117 drachmas per minute (from 112) and for non-peak hours 84 drachmas (from 80) per minute.

As of July 1 increases of up to 25 per cent will be implemented for postal dues, 15 per cent for railway fares and 35 per cent for urban bus tickets (100 drachmas from 75).

Eurostat service for media professionals

The European Commission has created a statistical information service through Eurostat, aimed to assist journalists and the media.

The information service will be provided free of charge after an application, with an Ecu200 limit per application. It will provide information on issues concerning general statistical data, economic and financial matters, population and social conditions, energy and industry, commerce, services and transport, the environment, research and development.

Professionals interested in obtaining such Eurostat statistics can receive more information at: Eurostat Media Support, Ana Maria Martinez, Tel+ (352) 43.01.33.408, Fax + (352) 43.01.32.649, e-mail: ana.martinez&eurostat.cec.be

Additional information can be obtained through the internet at: http: //europa.eu.int/en/comm/eurostat/press/index.htm

Men arrested for damaging car

Two men, Ignatius Stasis, 21 and Dimitris Trihos, 20, were arrested today after having placed rocks on the coast road south of Athens. The rocks caused damage to a passing car, driven by Dimitris Pitsiouris.

WEATHER

Tomorrow's weather will continue cloudy and wet with scattered downpours, gradually becoming restricted to the east and south of the country. Winds will be north to northeasterly, moderate to strong later in the Aegean. Temperatures in Athens will range from 11 - 21C and in Thessaloniki from 10 - 17C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 272.403 Pound sterling 443.761 Cyprus pd 530.720 French franc 46.767 Swiss franc 185.335 German mark 157.629 Italian lira (100) 15.904 Yen (100) 215.125 Canadian dlr. 194.789 Australian dlr. 212.754 Irish Punt 407.117 Belgian franc 7.643 Finnish mark 52.391 Dutch guilder 140.140 Danish kr. 41.412 Swedish kr. 34.819 Norwegian kr. 38.361 Austrian sch. 22.399 Spanish peseta 1.871 Port. Escudo 1.568

(Y.B.)


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