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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-01-16

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, 16/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • British Foreign Secretary: No legal obstacle for Cyprus to join EU
  • KYSEA decides replacement of navy leadership
  • US, British ambassadors briefed on escalating Turkish provocations
  • Gov't lashes back at Karamanlis over criticism of the economy
  • Professor Spraos' report on agriculture
  • Seamen strike against coming cabotage abolition
  • Costakis collection heading for Thessaloniki
  • 100,000 Greeks suffer from schizophrenia
  • Treasures of Mt. Athos exhibition reopens
  • Legal centre for training of Balkan attorneys in Thessaloniki
  • 'Open University' programmes begin in late February
  • Gov't warm to idea of President heading Olympics 2004 Committee
  • Smoking banned in Parliament's main chamber
  • Tsakirides approved as Olympic Airways president
  • Finance ministry collects 39 bln Drs in tax fines
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

British Foreign Secretary: No legal obstacle for Cyprus to join EU

British Foreign Secretary and European Council President Robin Cook yesterday emphasised Cyprus' excellent prospects of joining the European Union.

"In our view, there is no legal obstacle for Cyprus to become a full European Union member. On the contrary, we consider Cyprus as being one of the strongest candidates," Mr. Cook told a Turkish reporter who asked whether Cyprus' 1960 constitution prohi bited Cyprus from joining an international organisation in which both Turkey and Greece are not members.

"It (Cyprus) has the highest standard of living among all the candidates. Naturally, it would be much better if Cyprus were to join the EU as one country. For this reason we encourage the Republic of Cyprus to include the Turkish Cypriots in its negotiating team. Nobody has more to gain from the accession of Cyprus to the EU than those living in the Turkish Cypriot sector of the island, because their standard of living is only a quarter of the corresponding one for the Greek Cypriots and they (the Turki sh Cypriots) will have huge benefits from economic support by the EU," Mr. Cook added.

KYSEA decides replacement of navy leadership

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday chaired a meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), where it was unanimously decided to replace the Hellenic Navy's leadership.

KYSEA chose Vice-Adm. Georgios Ioannidis, fleet commander until now, as the new navy general staff chief. He succeeds Vice-Adm. Leonidas Paliogiorgos who was placed in retirement.

Furthermore, KYSEA unanimously decided to maintain Lt.-Gen. Manousos Paragioudakis at the head of the army and Georgios Antonetis at the head of the air force for another year.

According to the law on officers' seniority and promotion, the armed forces' new leadership is announced a month before it assumes its duties to have time to be briefed on its new activities.

The change of guard at the Hellenic Navy is expected to take place on Feb. 15. The annual promotions and retirements of officers will start on March 1.

US, British ambassadors briefed on escalating Turkish provocations

US ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns was summoned to the foreign ministry yesterday by the head of the Greek-Turkish affairs department, Ilias Klis, in order to be briefed on intensifying Turkish provocativeness in the Aegean.

Sources said that Mr. Burns was, among others, briefed on yesterday's incident near the Imia islets, in which two Turkish fishing boats approached, accompanied by a Turkish coastguard vessel.

All three trespassers withdrew from the area when a Greek coastguard vessel headed to the area. The same sources said that both Mr. Burns and the British ambassador, Sir Michael Llewelyn Smith, were summoned to the foreign ministry on the instructions of Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

Gov't lashes back at Karamanlis over criticism of the economy

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas accused main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis of irresponsibility and lying, after statements the ND leader made yesterday on the state of the economy and the government's economic policy.

Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday accused the government of lying when saying that no new taxes would be imposed, and of a lack of boldness in introducing structural changes and radical innovations.

Referring to the recent profiteering attacks on the drachma, Mr. Karamanlis said it was due to the lack of confidence in the Greek economy.

Mr. Reppas called on Mr. Karamanlis not to refer to these issues "with such irresponsibility" and added that the government contrasts the truth of its works with the lies in the ND leader's words.

He further said that with his statements yesterday, the ND leader exceeded his own self and accused him of wilfully concealing the truth on such issues as the achievement of convergence targets, unemployment and the need for structural incisions.

Mr. Reppas said Greece was very close to achieving convergence criteria, on the question of unemployment it has far lower rates than most European Union countries, while all structural incisions which have been made were carried out by the present PASOK government.

Professor Spraos' report on agriculture

Greek agriculture is deficient in four important respects, namely competitiveness, cohesion, prospects and institutions, says a report on the sector prepared by a committee headed by Prof. Ioannis Spraos, and released yesterday.

Its structural deficiencies are not insurmountable, given economic realism, social sensitivity and vision.

The authors of the report are strongly critical of the anachronistic views prevailing with regard to development in the sector, and political partisanship permeating agricultural organisations.

They caution against repetition of past practices whereby subsidies were wasted, resulting in no increase in the value added to products, no reduction in production costs and no improvement in competitiveness.

They stress the need for carving a national agricultural policy with rules that are compatible with CAP, and with full utilisation of the support envisaged in the Agenda 2000.

The report calls, among other things, for a re-examination of the role of agricultural cooperatives, the organisation of a national system of products of certified quality, the creation of a 'Land Bank' (possibly a subsidiary of the Agricultural Bank o f Greece - ATE) that would act as buyer, seller or broker, the setting up of a water management organisation with appropriate pricing policies that would discourage waste, and emphasis on measures that promote local development.

Commenting on the report, Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas said it contained vital recommendations for farming development which would be evaluated in the context of the ongoing dialogue in the sector.

Seamen strike against coming cabotage abolition

Greek-flag merchant ships remained tied up at ports throughout the country as crews went on a 24-hour strike demanding non-lifting of coastal shipping restrictions under European Union-wide transport deregulation.

Under cabotage restrictions, which must be gradually abolished in Greece by January 1, 2004, only Greek vessels are allowed to carry out coastal passenger and cargo routes originating in one Greek port and ending in another Greek port.

The restrictions, by decision of all the EU countries, cease to be in effect for cruiseships as of 1999 and for coastal shipping as of the year 2004.

In the meantime, a delegation of the Hellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) was due to meet in Brussels with EU Transport Commissioner Neil Kinnock to seek the extension of cabotage restrictions beyond the slated dates.

PNO Secretary General Yannis Halas told the ANA that the abolition of cabotage would cause "severe unemployment problems among the Greek seamen, who are already suffering the consequences of the withdrawal of ocean-going Greek ships from the Greek regis try (flag)".

Striking seamen in Piraeus were due to march to the merchant marine ministry for a demonstration, where they would also present a resolution to Minister Stavros Soumakis.

Costakis collection heading for Thessaloniki

The "Costakis Collection" of Russian avant-garde works of art, collected over 30 years by Georgios Costakis, a Muscovite of Greek descent, is to be brought to Greece from Cologne as part of an interim agreement for the final purchase of the collection,the government announced yesterday.

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the interim agreement had been signed for the purchase of the "western" part of the collection, the works being kept in the German city, which will be brought to Thessaloniki and kept initially at the Lazariston

Monastery until the completion of a modern art museum, which is to house and display the collection, which will also be taken on tour around the country.

Mr. Venizelos stressed that the move did not signify that the puchase had been finalised, but that it was in a sense "a pledge".

The culture minister also took exception to what he called criticism "from all around" over the decision to bring the works to the district he represents.

In response to press questions, he said: "I won't answer. These questions are unacceptable, and downgrade a major initiative by the government."

Costakis built up the collection between 1930 and 1960 by exchanging works by western artists for paintings dating from the period 1910-1930 by then unknown Russian avant-garde artists.

The collection, which now belongs to the daughter of the famous collector, Aliki Costaki, includes works by Malevic, founder of the "Supremacist" school, Tatlin, the founder of "Constructivism", as well as works by Popova, Rozanova and Mathiushin.

100,000 Greeks suffer from schizophrenia

Some 100,000 Greeks suffer from some form of schizophrenia, experts told a news conference yesterday. The first symptoms usually appear during puberty, although the condition usually appears in the patient between the ages of 20 and 25. Nevertheless, 20 p ercent of patients usually suffer only one episode of the disease during their lifetimes.

While its causes still remain unclear, it appears that heredity is involved, as well as illnesses suffered by the mother during pregnancy, such as influenza. The symptoms usually appear under the influence of external factors such as stress.

Experts said that many cases were still kept concealed by families even though the condition can be dealt with through the use of medication and psychological support for the family.

Treasures of Mt. Athos exhibition reopens

The exhibition "Treasures of Mt. Athos", currently being held in Thessaloniki's Museum of Byzantine Culture, which has been closed for maintenance work, is to reopen on Tuesday, January 20. The exhibition, which opened last year as part of celebrations for Thessaloniki's year as Cultural Capital of Europe, was extended until April by popular demand.

Other cultural activities that have continued into the new year include an exhibit of traditional Turkish rugs at the old Archaeological Museum, to run until January 22, the exhibition "Alexander and the East" as well as other art exhibitions due to con tinue until the end of the month.

Legal centre for training of Balkan attorneys in Thessaloniki

Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and Thessaloniki Bar Association president Georgios Ignatiadis yesterday announced the creation in the city of a centre for further training of Balkan lawyers in European law.

It was noted that the centre will operate in the framework of the Union of Balkan Bar Associations, a basic aim of which was its creation.

Mr. Petsalnikos also said that his ministry supported the efforts for the creation in Thessaloniki of a regional international centre for commercial arbitration.

'Open university' programmes begin in late February

Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis yesterday announced the commencement of "The Open University", modelled on the British system, at the end of February, with two pilot post-graduate programmes in English for teachers.

The two programmes will have 100 and 200 slots available, respectively, while students will pay fees of 15,000 drachmas.

Gov't warm to idea of president heading Olympics 2004 committee

The government yesterday responded favourably to the possibility of President Kostis Stephanopoulos heading the organising committee to be set up to oversee preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Asked by reporters to comment on the possibility, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said it would be "a good development" provided the president himself consented.

Mr. Reppas added however that it was still too early for any announcement to be made.

A draft bill on the formation of the Athens Olympic organising committee is due to be tabled in Parliament this week.

Mr. Reppas said yesterday that the committee would be made up of officials selected on the basis of their knowledge and ability "and not political or party criteria".

Smoking banned in Parliament's main chamber

Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis has banned smoking in the legislature's main chamber and during Parliamentary committee meetings, while he asked deputies to refrain from using mobile phones while the House or committees are in session.

Tsakiridis approved as Olympic Airways president

Theodoros Tsakiridis was approved as president and managing director of Olympic Airways late Wednesday night with eight votes from PASOK deputies to five against by New Democracy and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), while one blank ballot from the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) was cast.

Replying to questions from committee members, Mr. Tsakiridis spoke of the need for a new restructuring programme for the company, adding that he is prepared to hold a tough dialogue with trade unionists. Referring to his priorities, he said they were re location, the labour rule, the new organisation programme, a new commercial policy and the conclusion of strategic agreements.

In another development, the candidacy of George Chrysolouris as managing director to the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) was ratified by a majority vote by Parliament's audit committee.

Eight deputies from the ruling PASOK party voted for the candidacy and three deputies from the main opposition ND party against.

Finance ministry collects 39 bln Drs in tax fines

Greece's finance ministry collected more than 39 billion drachmas in fines imposed for tax infringements in 1997, it was announced yesterday.

A financial crime squad launched by the finance ministry in April 1997 reported 97,043 checks in all business sectors last year. It revealed 494, 230 tax and customs infringements from 25,375 companies.

The financial crime squad also reported 7,247 cases of tax infringements in 2,221 companies in the services and goods sector. More than 60 percent of large enterprises were revealed violating the tax law, followed by 43 percent of entertainment firms, 5 0 percent of fuel companies, 43 percent of hotels and 41 percent of both construction and travel firms.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather is forecast throughout Greece today with the possibility of showers in the west of the country. Local fog in the morning. Winds will be light. Athens will partly cloudy with temperatures between 7-16C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-11C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.369 Pound sterling 466.438 Cyprus pd 535.184 French franc 46.731 Swiss franc 192.478 German mark 156.513 Italian lira (100) 15.911 Yen (100) 218.260 Canadian dlr. 198.956 Australian dlr. 186.496 Irish Punt 390.451 Belgian franc 7.586 Finnish mark 51.709 Dutch guilder 138.885 Danish kr. 41.095 Swedish kr. 35.579 Norwegian kr. 37.910 Austrian sch. 22.247 Spanish peseta 1.847 Port. Escudo 1.532

(C.E.)


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