Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-18
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 18/01/1998 (ANA)
- Defence Minister meets with US Commerce Secretary Daley
- Fishermen's protests called off
- Turkey has long way to go - defence minister
- Greece calm in face of provocations
- Greece willing to help resolve Kosovo problem
- Athens to host Balkan conference in June
- Cars torched during student protest
- Gov't lashes back at opposition
- Mt. Athos Treasures exhibit reopens
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Defence Minister meets with US Commerce Secretary Daley
Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday briefed US Secretary of
Commerce William Daley on Greece's for a resolution of the Cyprus issue and
differences with Turkey as well as Greece's policies on regional security
Daley, who arrived in Athens on Saturday for talks on boosting bilateral
trade, is the first member of the Clinton administration to visit
US ambassador to Greece Nikolas Burns was present at the meetings.
Fishermen's protests called off
Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas, Finance Undersecretary George
Drys and a delegation representing professional fishermen and sponge divers
met on Saturday in an effort to resolve the problem which has arisen over
the rendering of Value Added Tax.
Fishermen and sponge divers protesting new tax rules continued to blockade
ports around the country for the sixth consecutive day on Saturday but
today only the ports of Kalymnos and Hios were blocked.
The protests were called off at other ports following a government
commitment to postpone new tax regulations for the sector.
Under the new tax regulations which have been introduced to bring the
relevant legislation in line with European Union directives, fishermen will
no longer be in the same tax category as farmers and will have to pay VAT
on their catches.
In an effort to lift the deadlock between the government and fishermen,
Drys yesterday signed a decision extending the date as of which VAT must be
rendered for one year, until December 31.
Until this date, fishermen and sponge divers will not be obliged to render
Turkey has long way to go - defence minister
Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, commenting yesterday on Turkey's high
court decision to dissolve the main opposition Welfare Party, said that
Turkey is a long way away from becoming a European country.
He added that the abolition of the Welfare Party confirms the decision of
the European Union on the terms Turkey must fullfil before it becomes a
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also said that Turkey must be assisted, so as to bring
to completion the functions of Democracy and human rights.
Greece, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said, has nothing to fear of the developments in
Turkey, since it is a strong country and a European democracy working for
regional security and stability.
Greece calm in face of provocations
Greece on Friday attributed the recent increase in Turkish provocativeness
in the Aegean to an effort to present what is essentially a European-
Turkish difference, namely the latter's lack of respect for international
law, as a bilateral problem between Athens and Ankara. Foreign Ministry
spokesman Costas Bikas said Greece was responding to Turkey's provocations
Greece willing to help resolve Kosovo problem
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou told Parliament on Friday 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
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.
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 yesterday 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.
Cars torched during student protest
An otherwise peaceful protest march by students from the Propylea in
central Athens to the Education Ministry was marred yesterday 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 yesterday'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.
Gov't lashes back at opposition
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday accused main opposition New
Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis of irresponsibility and lying,
after statements the ND leader made Thursday on the state of the economy
and the government's economic policy.
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis Thursday
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
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.
Mt. Athos Treasures exhibit reopens
The "Treasures of Mt. Athos" exhibition at Thessaloniki's Museum of
Byzantine Culture will reopen on January 20 after being closed for a week
for Museum maintenance work. The exhibition has been extended unt
Cloudy and with the chance of rain today in the west and south mainland
Greece and local fog. Cloudy weather for the rest of the country and light
showers in central Greece. Weather will improve in the west later in the
day. Winds will be easterly-northesterly moderate. Temperatures in Athens
will range from 7-15C, while in Thessaloniki from 4-9C.
Tomorrow, winds will be northerly moderate with strong to very strong in
the Ionian. The temperature will range from 2-11C in the north, 6-15C in
the Ionian and mainland and 9-16C in the Aegean. The forecast for Attica
tomorrow is overcast with moderate northerly winds and a temperature of
between 6-15C. In Thessaloniki, the forecast is for scattered cloud with
the temperature ranging from 4-9C.
Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.855
Pound sterling 465.982 Cyprus pd 534.688
French franc 46.693 Swiss franc 191.377
German mark 156.438 Italian lira (100) 15.888
Yen (100) 222.268 Canadian dlr. 199.531
Australian dlr. 188.753 Irish Punt 394.102
Belgian franc 7.582 Finnish mark 51.673
Dutch guilder 138.830 Danish kr. 41.073
Swedish kr. 35.660 Norwegian kr. 37.884
Austrian sch. 22.235 Spanish peseta 1.846
Port. Escudo 1.530