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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-01-22

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, 22/01/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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 status.

"If the government wants a break with the unions, then it shall have it," Polyzogopoulos said.

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 indefinite strike.

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 criminal nature.

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 be released.

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 Eskenderum.

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 12.

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 United Nations.

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 issues.

"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.

WEATHER

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- 9C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 286.261 Pound sterling 465.030 Cyprus pd 532.704 French franc 46.670 Swiss franc 191.649 German mark 156.300 Italian lira (100) 15.905 Yen (100) 224.132 Canadian dlr. 198.618 Australian dlr. 190.365 Irish Punt 394.122 Belgian franc 7.577 Finnish mark 51.673 Dutch guilder 138.711 Danish kr. 41.039 Swedish kr. 35.529 Norwegian kr. 37.942 Austrian sch. 22.221 Spanish peseta 1.845 Port. Escudo 1.529

(M.P.)


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