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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-05-20

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, 20/05/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • 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
  • Weather
  • 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. Sotiriadou said.

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.

WEATHER

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.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(M.P.)


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