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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 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

  • Greece willing to help resolve Kosovo problem
  • US Commerce Secretary due in Athens
  • Athens to host Balkan conference in June
  • Fishermen extend port protests
  • Cars torched during student protest
  • US, British ambassadors briefed on Turkish provocations
  • Gov't lashes back at opposition
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Greece willing to help resolve Kosovo problem

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou told Parliament today that Greece would be willing to host Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano and the leader of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova within the framework of any effort to resolve the Kosovo problem.

Papandreou was replying to a question tabled by main opposition New Democracy deputy Ioannis Varvitsiotis following the recent student uprising in Pristina and the activities of the self-proclaimed "liberation army of Albanian speakers of Kosovo".

The minister said Greece's position on the problem was identical to the official position of the European Union, namely that it rejected the option of independence for Kosovo and respected the borders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, coupled with prospects for wide-ranging autonomy for the province.

According to Papandreou, the recent student demonstrations in Pristina arose from the non-implementation of an education agreement between Milosevic and Rugova.

Papandreou strongly criticised the wave of "terrorist, criminal activities" by the self-proclaimed "liberation army of Albanian speakers of Kosovo" and condemned "the logic of using violence" in the region.

He also noted Greece's substantial contribution with regard to the first meeting in 50 years between the leaders of Albania and Yugoslavia, Nano and Milosevic, on the sidelines of the recent summit on Crete.

US Commerce Secretary due in Athens

World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Andrew Athens arrives here today, invited by U.S. Ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns, to take part in talks on boosting Greek-US trade relations, currently standing at 1.5 billion dollars.

Also participating in the talks, which begin tomorrow, will be U.S. Secretary of Commerce William Daley, the first member of the Clinton administration to visit Greece.

Daley told reporters in Washington that he would also promote the participation of U.S. firms in tenders announced by the Greek governnment for state procurements, while also naming the sectors of telecommunications and environmental protection as areas of investment potential.

Athens told the ANA that Daley, whome he met with earlier this week, would convey the U.S. interest in expanding trade relations with Greece as "the Greek market is an important factor of political and economic stability in southeastern Europe".

He also said "we urged Mr. Daley to also visit the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople as well, and await a positive result".

Athens to host Balkan conference in June

The European Socialist Party (ESP) will hold a Balkan Conference in Athens in June, in a follow-up to a similar conference in Thessaloniki last April that examined issues of security, stability, economic development and the creation of European institutions in the Balkans, at which representatives of socialist, social democrat and labour parties of all Balkan countries were invited for the first time.

The issue of security and stability in the Balkans was at the centre of discussions in Strasbourg today by the ESP Presidium, which unanimously adopted a proposal by Greek National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos representing the ruling PASOK party and Foreign Undersecretary Yannos Kranidiotis, a member of the Presidium.

The Presidium also approved a proposal by the two Greek representatives for hosting a European Conference on employment, social security and welfare state issues next summer in Greece.

Kranidiotis further briefed the ESP Presidium on the positive results of the Southeastern European Heads of State and Government Conference held early December in Crete, and on the "continuing, unacceptable and provocative attitude of Turkey" after the EU summit in Luxembourg.

Fishermen extend port protests

Fishermen and sponge divers protesting the government's new tax rules obliging them to maintain credit and debit ledgers today continued to blockade the ports of the islands of Leros, Patmos, Naxos, Kalymnos, Iraklion and Santorini for the fifth consecutive day.

A fishermen's union spokesman told ANA that the blockades will be extended to the islands of Ikaria, Samos and Fournoi as of this afternoon.

Before the new tax regulations, fishermen were included in the same tax category as farmers and were exempt from paying vallue-added tax (VAT) on their catches.

The spokesman said that under the new regulations fishermen will be obliged to install cash registers in their boats, maintain credit and debit ledgers and pay approximately two million dr. a year more in taxes, "which will annihilate us financially".

He also argued that most of the fishing boats were too small for a cash register, which would take up precious space, while the humidity at sea would cause constant break-down of the registers.

The blockades have caused hardships to Greek coastal shipping, forcing the cancellation of the routes of two car ferries from Iraklion to Piraeus, while three more ships were anchored outside the port unable to dock.

The striking fishermen also refused to allow a tanker carrying fuel to an airforce unit to set sail, as well as several ships carrying perishable goods.

Economy Undersecretary George Drys charged in a radio interview today that the blockades were "politically motivated", adding that "no one has asked the fishermen to install cash registers" on their boats.

Cars torched during student protest

An otherwise peaceful protest march by students from the Propylea in central Athens to the Education Ministry was marred by the explosion of a makeshift bomb that caused damage to a state-owned vehicle parked near the Propylea.

According to informed sources, the bomb was placed by self-styled anarchists mingling with the students.

The march was supervised by a large riot police contingent.

The attack follows two separate bomb attacks last night in the central Athens suburb of Zographou.

In the first incident, a private school bus belonging to the Platon school was seriously damaged by a makeshift bomb. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, a bus belonging to the urban transport company (OASA) parked near Zographou cemetery and university campus also sustained serious damage from petrol bombs allegedly thrown by anarchists.

Shortly after today's incident in central Athens, a group of youths stopped a Mercedes car being driven near the Polytechnic, forced the driver to get out and set fire to the vehicle with a petrol bomb.

The blaze which caused serious damage to the car was put out by firemen.

US, British ambassadors briefed on 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 opposition

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.

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

(M.P.)


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