Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-05-20
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 20/05/1998 (ANA)
- Greece gives account of WEU presidency
- No package deals on Cyprus, Aegean
- Joint Greek, Cypriot exercise begins
- Digital TV focus of talks
- National Bank of Greece shares sell well
- Tsohatzopoulos ends Swedish visit
- Spanish royals due in Athens on Monday
- Educational reforms announced
- Family agency plans to bring down abortion figures
- Greek participation in US-EU exhibition
- De Silguy refers to improved indicators in Greek economy
- Gov't again vows not to backtrack on Ionian Bank sale
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece gives account of WEU presidency
The Western European Union is today being called on to fill the security
vacuum created in Europe in the wake of the end of the cold war and must
evolve into united Europe's defence arm, National Defence Minister Akis
Tsohatzopoulos told the organisation's parliamentary assembly in Paris
today. Tsohatzopoulos was speaking on the achievements of Greece's six-
month presidency of the WEU. Greece's post as president ends in June.
No package deals on Cyprus, Aegean
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou today said there were "no
package solutions", as Turkey's "provocations and whatever claims in the
Aegean" and the Cyprus problem were "two different issues". He was replying
to questions on statements by US President Bill Clinton on Monday in
Britain after talks with British premier Tony Blair apparantly linking the
Cyprus issue, Greek-Turkish differences in the Aegean and Turkey's European
orientation. "Turkey's provocations and whatever claims in the Aegean, and
the Cyprus problem, which is not a Greek-Turkish issue, are two different
matters," Papandreou told reporters after a 45-minute meeting with prime
minister Costas Simitis.
Joint Greek, Cypriot exercise begins
Greece and Cyprus today began a two-day joint air and naval exercise code-
named "Toxotis" spanning Cyprus and the Greek islands of Rhodes and Crete,
defence ministry sources said. The sources told ANA that two Greek frigates
and auxiliary fleet vessels and Greek airforce planes were taking part in
the manoeuvres, being held under the Greece-Cyprus joint defence doctrine.
The exercises aimed at training the island's air defence units, the sources
said. They said that, in the context of the manouevres, four Greek F-16
fighter planes flew over the wider region of Paphos today, carried out mock
strikes against land targets, and returned to their base.
Digital TV focus of talks
Prime Minister Costas Simitis today chaired a meeting on the legislative
framework for satellite, digital and subscriber TV broadcasting, to be
discussed at Friday's joint meeting of the ruling PASOK party's political
secretariat and the inner cabinet. Attending the meeting were Press and
Media Minister Dimitris Reppas, Transport and Communications Minister
Tassos Mantelis and the prime minister's legal adviser. "Greece is leading
in this sector as many European countries haven't even decided on what
legislative framework will be applied," Reppas said.
National Bank of Greece shares sell well
National Bank of Greece, the country's largest bank, has successfully
completed a private placement of 2.5 million shares to Greek and foreign
institutional investors at 46,900 drachmas per share, near to its closing
price last Friday. National Bank Governor Theodoros Karatazas yesterday
told a joint news conference with Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis
that the success of the offering reflected confidence in the bank. The
bank's share price rocketed to 51,995 drachmas on the Athens Stock Exchange
yesterday, gaining 2,245 drachmas. The stock was heavily traded with volume
at 124,000 shares.
Tsohatzopoulos ends Swedish visit
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos described his visit here as
"useful and beneficial for both countries," shortly before leaving
yesterday afternoon. "We agreed on a common study by the two (military
general) staffs, with a view to signing agreements similar to ones we
signed with other countries that will give us the possibility for multifold
military and arms industry cooperation," he told Greek reporters.
Spanish royals due in Athens on Monday
King of Spain Juan Carlos and his wife Sophia are expected in Athens on
Monday for a four-day official visit at the invitation of the President of
the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos. The Greek president will host a dinner
in honour of the Spanish royals on Monday night, while the couple will also
inaugurate the "Classic Greece in Spain" exhibition.
Educational reforms announced
Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis yesterday unveiled reforms dealing
with the evaluation of the unified high school system and nationwide
college entrance requirements. The basic changes include division of the
school year into two four-month semesters instead of three trimesters, as
was the case with the old system. According to an announcement, the general
examination for college entrance will be based on the cumulative grade of
the unified HS diploma by 70 per cent.
Family agency plans to bring down abortion figures
Greek hospitals perform 150,000 abortions a year and the Greek family
planning council said yesterday it was launching a campaign to reduce that
number by a third by the end of the century and bolster Greece's falling
birthrate. In 1996, the mortality rate outpaced the birthrate with 100,740
deaths to 100,718 births, the head of the family planning council A.
Greek participation in US-EU exhibition
About 20 Greek firms active in the foodstuffs industry, bio-technology as
well as electronic and industrial machinery will be selected for participation
in the "US-EU Partenariat" exhibition to be held in Chicago this October.
In the context of business cooperation between the EU and the US, the
European Chamber has undertaken to select 200 companies from EU countries.
Another 450 SMEs will take part in the exhibition.
De Silguy refers to improved indicators in Greek economy
European Commissioner Yves-Thibault de Silguy has referred to an improvement
of the Greek economy's basic indicators in 1997, and fully endorsed the
plan for participation of the drachma in the euro as of Jan. 1, 2001. The
EU Commissioner made the statement during yesterday's meeting of the EU
finance ministers' council (ECOFIN), where he presented the 'major
orientations" of the economic policies of member-states in 1998.
Gov't again vows not to backtrack on Ionian Bank sale
The government will not back down over its plan to sell Ionian Bank despite
a wave of bank strikes, spokesman Dimitris Reppas told a news conference
yesterday. The method and timing of the sale were the only factors that had
yet to be decided, said Mr. Reppas in reply to a reporter's question.
Workers of Ionian Bank are staging an indefinite strike, and have occupied
its computer centre, disrupting ATM operations. Other banks are staging
rolling strikes with the Bank of Greece expected to stage a 24-hour strike
tomorrow and private Alpha Credit Bank on Friday. Today, all banks will
hold a four-hour stoppage at 1200-1600 hours.
Unstable weather will prevail throughout Greece today with local showers
and storms in central Greece the Ionian and the northern and eastern Aegean
islands. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Possibility of rain in Athens
with temperatures between 14-22C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with
temperatures from 12-18C.
Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 306.082
British pound 496.913 Japanese yen(100) 224.966
French franc 51.163 German mark 171.576
Italian lira (100) 17.402 Irish Punt 432.314
Belgian franc 8.321 Finnish mark 56.445
Dutch guilder 152.262 Danish kr. 45.039
Austrian sch. 24.383 Spanish peseta 2.021
Swedish kr. 39.398 Norwegian kr. 40.811
Swiss franc 206.053 Port. Escudo 1.674
Aus. dollar 190.687 Can. dollar 211.078
Cyprus pound 583.276