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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-09-15

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, 15/09/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • International turmoil forces changes in Greek budget planning
  • Semblance of normality returns to Tirana
  • Border police report gunfire from Albanian side
  • Greek Radio and TV plans cuts to wage bill
  • FBI Director to visit Greece
  • Public transport workers strike tomorrow
  • Finnish president begins official visit
  • Athens mayor honours Greek Cypriot teacher
  • French officials arrive in Greece
  • Greece complies with EU on JAT embargo
  • Greece's serious demographic problem
  • Int'l conference of women journalists opens
  • Bourse overhaul bill goes to parliament
  • Government may cut consumer car tax in 1999
  • National Bank subsidiary plans to enter NY bourse
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

International turmoil forces changes in Greek budget planning

The recent turmoil on international markets had forced the government to adjust its targets for the 1999 budget deficit, National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou said. The budget will have a further margin of 200 billion drachmas to deal with any unforeseen developments bringing the target for the 1999 budget deficit to lower than the original target of 2.4 percent of GDP. Papantoniou said the extra 200 billion drachmas would be raised from further cuts in spending and reiterated that there would be no new taxes in the new budget.

Semblance of normality returns to Tirana

Greece's armed forces are in a state of advanced readiness but there are no indications of a wave of refugees fleeing Albania. There are also no indications that the ethnic Greek community was in any danger, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. The news from the Albanian capital seemed to be more positive today, Reppas said, adding the hope that this would continue, and welcoming a statement from former Albanian President Sali Berisha condemning acts of violence

Border police report gunfire from Albanian side

Officials at the Kakavia border post, on the Greek-Albanian border reported hearing gunfire and occasional explosions from the Albanian side, according to an ANA dispatch from Ioannina. A number of Albanians - mostly women and children - passed through the post to Greece today, but officials said the number was far less than expected and probably due to reports that armed men have set up roadblocks on roads into Kakavia to rob those fleeing the violence. Two Albanians - a police official and an employee of the defence ministry - injured in Monday's riots in Tirana were choppered into the Ioannina Hospital today for treatment.

Greek Radio and TV plans cuts to wage bill

Greek Radio and Television S.A. (ERT) plans on making significant savings and slashing its wage bill by reducing staff numbers through an early retirement scheme, according to the company's business plan for 1998-2003 announced on Tuesday. National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou and Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas, speaking after the signing of a management contract with ERT, said the reforms would soon create a company able to compete with the private sector.

FBI Director to visit Greece

The director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Louis Freeh will begin a two-day visit to Greece on Thursday, the U.S. embassy in Athens said. Freeh, who is currently on a European trip, will have talks on issues of mutual interest with Greek government officials involved in law enforcement.

Public transport workers strike tomorrow

Public transport in Athens will be disrupted tomorrow when bus and trolley drivers hold a walk-out to press demands related to collective bargaining agreements and work rosters. Bus drivers will hold a stoppage from 12 midday to the end of their shift while trolley workers have scheduled a work stoppage from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Finnish president begins official visit

Greece and Finland share the same concerns about the tension in the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, beginning an official visit to Greece, said in Athens yesterday. Mr. Ahtisaari, speaking after meeting with Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos, said the UN Security Council should have the final word on the issue and that European partners had to cooperate to deal with the difficulties facing the European Union. Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, government, military and municipal officials were on hand at the official reception for President Ahtisaari and his wife at the Presidential Mansion.

Athens mayor honours Greek Cypriot teacher

Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos gave an award of honour of the city of Athens to the heroic teacher of the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus Eleni Foka yesterday. The ceremony was held at the Town Hall after the city's administrative council reached a unanimous decision to honour her. In an address, Mr. Avramopoulos said that "Athens stands by and will stand by Eleni Foka and all the struggling Cypriot brothers of ours, whose flamboyant teacher is a symbol, waiting for the day of freedom, the day of vindication and the triumph of jus tice over the injustice of spirit, over barbarity."

French officials arrive in Greece

A four-member delegation of the French-Greek Friendship Senatorial Group led by Marc Massion has arrived in Athens for a week's visit and talks with Greek officials on bilateral and other issues. The delegation will also visit Crete and Delphi.

Greece complies with EU on JAT embargo

There is no question of Greece not complying with European Union directives, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday. Mr. Reppas was replying to a question regarding the EU's directive to impose an embargo on flights by Yugoslav national carrier JAT. Mr. Reppas added that Greece had set out its doubts about the effectiveness of the measure. The European Union ban on flights by Yugoslav carriers to punish Belgrade for its policy in Kosovo was supposed to come into effect last week. Britain said last week it would not implement the ban for 12 months.

Greece's serious demographic problem

The Fifth National Congress of Large Families on Family and Demography ended Sunday evening in Alexandroupolis, with the participation of 250 delegates. During the sessions, it was stressed that the demographic problem the country is facing, with the low birth rate, was the number one danger and must be dealt with in immediate and radical measures. Participating Alexandroupolis Metropolitan Anthimos noted that all large families should enjoy the state's assistance in order to prosper and serve as an example for new married couples, as this was the panacea to overcome the low birth rate.

Int'l conference of women journalists opens

This year's annual meeting of the International Association of Women Journalists and Writers opened yesterday at a Lagonisi hotel, on the topic: "The value of education in journalism in the 21st cetury". The meeting, attended by 85 participants from around the world, including the European Network of Greek Women Journalists, will examine issues relating to the profession's code of ethics, Internet in the era of globalisation, and education requirements for journalists.

Bourse overhaul bill goes to parliament

The government yesterday submitted a bill to parliament that eases restrictions on entry into the Athens Stock Exchange, allowing better investment prospects for many firms currently barred from the market due to stringent listing requirements. The authorities have held consultations with market players to hear feedback before submitting the bill, which helps to modernise the stock market and harmonise it with other exchanges in Europe. The talks have led to changes in some of the rules ori ginally contained in the bill.

Government may cut consumer car tax in 1999

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that the government may reduce a consumer tax on cars in 1999, economic conditions permitting. "The government is considering the issue, and there are talks going on. It would be premature to say any more," Mr. Reppas said in reply to a question. On Sunday, National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papantoniou said that the government may lower taxes in 1999 in order to help inflation to fall, in turn easing entry into European economic and monetary union.

National Bank subsidiary plans to enter NY bourse

Atlantic Bank, a US subsidiary of state-run National Bank of Greece, plans to join the New York Stock Exchange and expand its branch network both within the city and into neighbouring states. National Bank of Greece governor Theodoros Karatzas told a news conference yesterday that Atlantic Bank also planned to set up a brokerage and a holding company. The news conference was held to outline the activities of the New York based bank following its decision to hold a board meeting in Greece for the first time.

WEATHER

Unstable but fair weather is forecast for Greece today with cloud in the western, central and northern regions and scattered showers later turning to gales or storms. Athens, sunny to partly cloudy with temperatures between 20-29. Thessaloniki will be cloudy with rain and temperatures from 18-26C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 289.386 British pound 484.572 Japanese yen (100) 218.171 French franc 50.699 German mark 169.930 Italian lira (100) 17.214 Irish Punt 425.171 Belgian franc 8.239 Finnish mark 55.820 Dutch guilder 150.700 Danish kr. 44.616 Austrian sch. 24.150 Spanish peseta 2.020 Swedish kr. 36.668 Norwegian kr. 38.182 Swiss franc 206.262 Port. Escudo 1.660 Aus. dollar 172.181 Can. dollar 190.484 Cyprus pound 574.170

(M.P.)


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