Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-22
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 22/01/1998 (ANA)
- Pangalos reiterates right to extend territorial waters
- Unions say today's strike a success
- Greek court rejects Italian extradition request
- Simitis meets with WEU's de Puig
- Syrian ship runs aground off Lesbos
- Papandreou talks in Lisbon
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Pangalos reiterates right to extend territorial waters
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos reiterated yesterday that Greece had
the right to extend its territorial waters to twelve nautical miles under
the provisions of the Law of the Sea convention.
Pangalos told reporters that although the government had not yet taken
practical steps in this direction, when it was deemed expedient it would do
so in a responsible manner as a major sea power.
He also reiterated that the practical consequences from exercising this
right would be minor and under no circumstances would take on the
"mythological" dimensions intentionally given the issue by Turkey.
Pangalos further clarified that any changes would in no way affect merchant
shipping but only naval exercises and warships, and particularly those
vessels not sailing in accordance with the rules of safe passage.
The minister rejected an argument put forward in the past by Turkey's
former premier Tansu Ciller, who claimed that in order to sail between the
Turkish ports of Izmir and Aivali, she would have to request permission
from the Greek authorities.
Pangalos dismissed the argument as completely groundless, stressing that
Ms. Ciller was able to travel freely wherever she wished.
Unions say today's strike a success
Unionists said today's 24-hour strike by public sector organisations was an
overwhelming success and warned the government that it should think before
if it chose a rift with state-sector unions.
General Confederation of Greece president Christos Polyzogopoulos told a
rally in Athens that there was almost total participation in the strike
from the urban transport sector.
The strike caused serious congestion in central Athens as commuters
resorted to their cars to get to work.
Reports said the participation rate in state-run banks and the Greek
telecommunications organisation OTE was lower.
Today's strike affected all urban transport, Olympic Airways flights and
inter-city railway links. Workers at DEH, OTE, Greek Post Offices and the
Athens Water and Sewage Company, as well as all state-run banks, said they
would support the strike.
GSEE called the strike over a provision in the government's new tax bill
that allows a change in the status of workers at DEKOs in the framework of
their reform. Workers say that the provision directly undermines their
"If the government wants a break with the unions, then it shall have it,"
Sources said the union movement was considering calling another 24-hour
strike next week. The issue is expected to be discussed tomorrow.
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou reiterated to
unionists presenting him with their demands that the provision applied only
to loss-making or bankrupt public enterprises and corporations (DEKOs).
He said a six-month period of negotiations between DEKO management and
unions was sufficient time to achieve an agreement on changes but said that
the final decision lay with the government.
Polyzogopoulos, however, said the union movement would not accept different
conditions for workers in loss-making and profit-making enterprises and
warned of increased labour unrest.
Reports said urban transport organisations - one of the sectors that
Papantoniou says would be affected by the provision - were considering an
Urban transport organisations alone have debts of 850 billion drachmas,
which will be accommodated by legislation to be submitted to Parliament
later in the year.
Greek court rejects Italian extradition request
An Athens court today rejected an Italian request for the extradition of
Enrico Bianco after ruling that the charges brought against him by the
Italian authorities concerned activities of a political rather than
The three-member appeals court, which is competent for deciding the
extradition of foreigners wanted abroad, ruled that only one charge
involving possession of a small quantity of a controlled substance was a
criminal offence, but that under the Greek law of penal procedure, this had
been prescribed by a relevant statute of limitation.
The appeals court prosecutor yesterday asked the court to accept the
Italian request for Bianco's extradition.
Following today's ruling, Bianco, who was arrested in Greece last December
after the Greek police acted on information from Interpol, is expected to
Court sources said it was likely that the Italian authorities would submit
a new extradition request containing fresh evidence linking Bianco to
criminal offences carried out in Italy.
Simitis meets with WEU's de Puig
Prime Minister Costas Simitis had talks at noon with the President of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Western European Union (WEU), Luis-Maria de
Puig who began a two-day visit here today.
The talks focused on the WEU in general, issues concerning the union and
Greece, as well as the policy to be followed by Greece which currently
holds the WEU presidency.
Syrian ship runs aground off Lesbos
A Syrian-flagged freighter carrying a cargo of iron ran aground on a shoal
today north of the Aegean island of Lesbos.
The "Lambda Kenter" was sailing from Ukraine to the Turkish port of
A Greek coastguard vessel and fishing boats from nearby harbours rushed to
the scene and picked up the 16-member crew when it was clear that water was
entering the hold.
Shortly afterwards however, the company which owns the vessel ordered ten
of the crew back. Meanwhile, a tug boat was on its way to try and dislodge
the ship from the shoal.
Papandreou talks in Lisbon
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou began talks in Lisbon today
with the leadership of the Portuguese Foreign Ministry on the "Agenda 2000"
and other issues related to the enlargement of the European Union, as well
as the Western European Union, of which Greece currently holds the rotating
presidency, according to an ANA dispatch from the Portuguese capital.
The WEU's ministerial council is to meeting on Rhodes on May 11 and
Papandreou is meeting in Lisbon with Foreign Minister Jaime Matos Gama and
Undersecretary Francisco Seixas da Costa.
Portugal supports Greece's candidacy for a seat on the United Nations
Security Council, as well as Greece's positions on foreign policy issues
such as the accession of Cyprus to the EU and recognition of the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia according to provisions set out by the
At a joint press conference following the talks, Papandreou said the two-
hour meeting had also centred on EU-Turkey relations, as well as the
Kurdish refugee problem within the framework of the Schengen Agreement.
According to diplomatic sources, broad agreement was reached on most
"We gave emphasis to enlargement and stressed that the EU's internal
cohesion should not be weakened. This is a priority for the new period
being ushered in by the "Santer package" (of EU funding)," said Papandreou.
It was also agreed that the political problem in Cyprus should not be an
obstacle to the republic's accession to the EU.
In response to questions, Papandreou said Turkey had been wrong to react
negatively to the conclusions of the Luxembourg summit. Instead of taking
advantage of the "economic package" which was available from the EU, it had
proceeded to carry out violations of Greek air space.
During his meeting with the Portuguese Minister, the latter reportedly
agreed that Turkey should "accept" the summit conclusions.
Local cloudiness and rain is forecast for northern Greece with snowfall in
the mountains and the central highlands. Unsettled weather in the rest of
the country with scattered showers, increasing over the eastern Aegean and
Dodecanese islands. Periods of clear weather in the west and south. Winds,
east to northeasterly, moderate to strong, particularly in the southern
Aegean. Occasional showers and spells of sunshine in Athens with temperatures
from 8-13C. Thessaloniki will be cloudy and wet with temperatures between 2-
Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 286.261
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French franc 46.670 Swiss franc 191.649
German mark 156.300 Italian lira (100) 15.905
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Australian dlr. 190.365 Irish Punt 394.122
Belgian franc 7.577 Finnish mark 51.673
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