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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-12-10

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, 10/12/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Turkish ship sinks off Kymi, one missing
  • Police arrest 47 illegal immigrants
  • Turkish fighters violate Athens FIR
  • Gov't unworried by opinion poll results
  • Left Coalition begins conference on Cyprus
  • US envoys comments on economy not an issue
  • Greeks flock to sit for civil service entry exams
  • PM: Greece determined to enter EMU by 2002
  • Karamanlis attacks gov't
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Turkish ship sinks off Kymi, one missing

Coast Guard ships and helicopters have launched a search and rescue operation for a Turkish seaman reported missing after the sinking of a Turkish-flagged cargo ship in Kymi, off the island of Evia early today.

Piraeus harbour authorities said that 11 other crew members of the 996-ton "S. Ugurlu" were picked up by a nearby trawler, which saw the Turkish ship's flares, and were safe at Kymi.

The vessel, with a cargo of magnesium ore, was on its way from Thessaloniki to Italy.

Police arrest 47 illegal immigrants

An undentified man escaped after abandoning a stolen truck in which he was transporting 47 Albanians, all illegal immigrants, from the border to Athens.

The man, who fled on foot after spotting a police check-point on the Ioannina-Konitsa road, had been paid 55,000 drachmas by each of the Albanians, all of whom have been deported.

Turkish fighters violate Athens FIR

Six pairs of Turkish F-16 fighter planes infringed the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) over the Aegean this morning, Defence Ministry sources said.

The sources said the six pairs of Turkish F-16s entered Greek airspace at 9:30 a.m. over the islands of Lesvos, the northern Sporades and 25 miles south of Kassandra, without submitting flight plans, thus infringing air traffic regulations.

In all instances, the Turkish jetfighters were intercepted by Greek fighters.

Earlier, the Turkish fighter planes and twice violated Greek national airspace over the region of Aghios Efstratios, near Lesvos, the sources said.

Gov't unworried by opinion poll results

An MRB opinion poll released today gave cause for neither euphoria nor displeasure on the part of the government, its spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

The poll, carried out on behalf of Mega television, showed the ruling PASOK party to be five points behind the main opposition New Democracy party.

Support for Simitis himself had dropped to 36.5 percent. The highest approval rating was for Athens Mayor Dimitris Avrampoulos at 72.3%.

Reppas said the only thing that concerned the government was to resolve the problems of the Greek people and that is why it had been voted into power in 1996.

He noted that Simitis had been elected prime minister when PASOK had been trailing ND in the opinion polls by 10 points.

Left Coalition begins conference on Cyprus

Cyprus' prospects for accession to the European Union, the U.S. initiative on the Cyprus problem and the individual aspects of the political problem were the focus of today's opening session of a conference organised by the Coalition of the Left and Progress at the Zappion Mansion.

Coalition president Nikos Konstantopoulos opened the two-day conference titled "The Cyprus problem: Prospect of solution?", which is being attended by political personalities, representatives of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parties and academics.

Konstantopoulos said that the new developments -- Cyprus' course towards EU accession and the new NATO structure -- created new opportunities, but he also expressed hope that they woul dnot also create new tension that could prospectively lead to definitive partition of the island republic.

He said 1998, after the presidential elections in Cyprus, would be a critical year for the Cyprus issue and, in the time remaining, the two communities on the island should try to create conditions for dialogue aiming at a solution of the problem.

Cyprus Ambassador in Athens Haralambos Christophorou agreed that 1998 would be a crucial year for the Cyprus issue, and expressed the Nicosia government's desire to collaborate for a solution to the political problem, calling on the Turkish side to follow suit. He also said the U.S. initiative was expected to intensify after the Cypriot elections.

Cyprus MP Nikos Katsourides, member of the AKEL political bureau and director of Haravghi newspaper, endorsed a bizonal, bicommunal federation founded on sovereignty, ensuring refugees the right to return to their homes, and respect of human rights.

He said the present system of guarantees would not work in the future, and proposed its expansion.

Katsourides expressed reservations on the EU policy on Cyprus, saying the European Union was not interested so much in whether Cyprus became a member or in what solution was given to the Cyprus problem but was primarily concerned for reasons of stability in the region. He also observed a turnabout in the EU stance towards the Turkish Cypriots, whome he said it in essence recognised as a second state entity.

Mehmet Ali Talat, leader of the Republican Turkish party of Cyprus rejected the idea of unification of the Turkish Cypriot community with Turkey and of the Greek Turkish community with Greece as a solution.

He also rejected partition as a solution to the political problem, and implied that he favoured Cyprus' European orientation, but with the equal participation of the Turkish Cypriots with the reasoning that "it is not easy for the one (Greek Cypriots) to represent the other (Turkish Cypriots)".

Talat warned that the present status quo was dangerous for Cyprus, and endorsed a bizonal, bicommunal federation, adding that the issue of sovereignty was open to discussion.

He further supported the inclusion of Turkey in a proposed European Conference, clearly indicating that he disagreed with Greece's veto on the matter.

US envoys comments on economy not an issue

Comments made by new US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns during a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday were "not a problem", said government spokesman Dimitris Reppas.

Burns said the US "fully supported Greece's efforts to modernise its economy".

"There is nothing reprehensible about praising the government's economic policy even if that praise comes from a foreign government. No political conclusions should be drawn from such statements," he said.

Greeks flock to sit for civil service entry exams

Some 117,316 Greeks have applied to sit for entry to the civil service in nationwide exams to be held early next year, according to an announcement today.

The overwhelming response for the 2,353 positions were centred mainly on the 769 positions in secondary education, for which 96,325 people have applied. Only one in 125 candidates will succeed in getting the much- coveted position.

Some 13,291 applications were submitted for 1,022 positions in tertiary education and 7,700 for 562 openings in technical education.

According to figures from Thessaloniki, three in four candidates for the 104 positions in the Thessaloniki prefecture are women.

Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy criticised the government for not practicing what it preached, saying the government's commitment to replacing every five departing civil servants with one new appointment was not being followed.

ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said figures showed that appointments in the second half of 1997 had totalled 3,228 and departures 4,776 - in other words, a ratio of 1:1.47 and 1:5.

"With this irresponsible and unscrupulous policy, the Greek economy will not coverge with the European Union," Spiliotopoulos said.

PM: Greece determined to enter EMU by 2002

Greece is determined to enter European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) by the date of the introduction of the Euro, that is, January 1, 2002 at the latest, and negotiate hard to protect its interests, but also to play a prominent role with a positive contribution to the evolution of the EU, Prime Minister Costas Simitis told Parliament last night during a special debate on European convergence issues.

The prime minister said his government's basic vision was of a strong Greece inexorably linked with a strong Europe of the peoples, and not simply of the strong nations.

Greece's priorities were determined by:

  • The Turkish threat and the instability in the Middle East necessitated the safeguarding of the country's vital interests and the consolidation of peace and security.
  • A competitive economy and sustainable development.
  • Enlargement of the Union and cooperation with those countries in the Balkans and eastern Europe wishing to participate in the building of a new European reality.
  • More democracy and participation, transparency and efficiency. He stressed that as he found in his recent meetings with counterparts in London and Paris, Greece's partners were supportive of its efforts to achieve convergence.

    Regarding the issue of the proposed, French-inspired, European Conference, with the participation of the 15 member-states, 11 prospective members and Turkey, Mr. Simitis said the content of the conference was unclear, as the issues for discussion had not been determined, and, therefore, Greece considered it unnecessary.

    He reiterated that Turkey had no right to raise objections to another country's entry to the EU, a reference to Cyprus.

    Karamanlis attacks gov't

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis attacked the government over its policies concerning the economy and foreign affairs and termed Prime Minister Costas Simitis a "Prime Minister of taxes."

    In his address, Mr. Karamanlis said the sole convergence criteria Greece had was the taxation policy applied by the government, adding that it has imposed 49 taxes and 13 new taxes which are included in the state budget.

    "The biggest lie you have said is that no new taxes will be imposed. The convergence you are trying to achieve is with accounting alchemy. Leniently speaking, the divergence from the budget this year will amount to 600 billion drachmas. You are failing even if you achieve nominal convergence," he said.

    Mr. Karamanlis spoke of the inadequate absorption of European Union funds and lost opportunities and criticised the government of unprecedented indifference against the agricultural population which is creating, as he said, the danger of desolation for the Greek countryside.

    Referring to EU funds, Mr. Karamanlis said the situation "is tragic and that while two thirds of the time at our disposal has passed only a third of the second community support framework has been absorbed".

    Mr. Karamanlis also focused on national issues and accused the prime minister of submissiveness, adding that due to this policy Greece had been isolated and not Turkey.

    "Either you must change policy or Greece its government," he said.

    WEATHER

    Cloudiness with mild northerly winds in most parts of Greece today with a slight rise in temperatures. Athens will be partly cloudy with spells of sunshine and temperatures between 5-14C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2-11C.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 278.564 Pound sterling 458.403 Cyprus pd 531.514 French franc 46.557 Swiss franc 191.307 German mark 155.813 Italian lira (100) 15.914 Yen (100) 214.163 Canadian dlr. 195.999 Australian dlr. 186.223 Irish Punt 404.538 Belgian franc 7.553 Finnish mark 51.608 Dutch guilder 138.270 Danish kr. 40.920 Swedish kr. 35.676 Norwegian kr. 38.547 Austrian sch. 22.141 Spanish peseta 1.843 Port. Escudo 1.525

    (M.P.)


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