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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-09-28

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, 28/09/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • ECOFIN council pleased with course of EU economy
  • Simitis ends tour of Aetoloakarnania, region's projects
  • Karamanlis says gov't in `state of dissolution`
  • SE European countries agree on regional peacekeeping force
  • Europarliament's Spencer confident Cyprus will join EU
  • Medical examiners: Matei choked on his own vomit
  • Polish army's chief of staff in Greece
  • Greek runner wins 16th annual "Spartathlon '98"
  • Balkan bilateral, multilateral cooperation to be discussed
  • Greek first division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

ECOFIN council pleased with course of EU economy

The three-day council of European Union finance and economy ministers (ECOFIN) concluded in Vienna yesterday with the overall ascertainment that Europe's economy has turned into an "oasis of stability and development" following the euro's introduction.

Greece was represented by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou as well as the governor of the Bank of Greece, Loukas Papademos.

Mr. Papantoniou said the result of this development is that over the next few years the prospect will be shaped for the continuation of the present recovery and of relatively high rates of economic growth, at least in most European Union member-states.

He said that Greece is certainly included in this respect, as its economy has an even higher development rate, reaching 3.5-3.7 per cent in 1999.

Mr. Papantoniou mentioned during the discussion on the "Agenda 2000" programme, which preoccupied the last session of ECOFIN, that Greece mostly agrees with the content as set out by the European Commission but considers that the 1.27 per cent limit concerning the EU's own resources does not appear capable of corresponding to the needs existing for the promotion of EU policies, particularly in relation with cohesion.

He stressed the danger of the inadequacy of resources while referring in particular to uncertainties existing on the cost of enlargement and also possible savings from the reshaping of common agricultural policy.

The communique issued by the ECOFIN council in Vienna hails the joining of the drachma to the second Exchange Rate Mechanism which, as stressed, was agreed by all and is based on the satisfactory functioning of the drachma in the framework of the existing mechanism, as well as on the major progress achieved in the Greek economy's convergence with those of EU member-states. It was added that the fluctuation margin remains 15 per cent.

Simitis ends tour of Aetoloakarnania, region's projects

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday ended a two-day tour of the Aetoloakarnania prefecture by saying that projects taking place in the region are remedying injustice, namely, the delay of the region's development.

Speaking in the town of Messolongi, he said that Aetoloakarnania is entering a period of development and optimism, since many projects are either underway or have been scheduled and whose duration will last for many years, as well as creating new jobs in the region.

Mr. Simitis visited a detour road project in the town of Agrinio and said that this section constitutes the beginning of the country's western road axis which will restore a balance between eastern and western Greece.

He also referred to foreign policy saying that Greece has shown the course towards peace and stability in the Balkans. He said that his government also has a policy for the Balkan region, a position that he supported on two occasions: the summit of Balk an nation prime ministers which started in Crete last year and will be repeated in Antalya, Turkey, on October 11 and 12, and the meeting between the prime ministers of Greece, Romania and Bulgaria which will take place in Delphi.

Mr. Simitis referred in particular to the handling of European issues, saying that thanks to negotiations being carried out by the government more than 10 trillion drachmas will flow into the country from the third Community Support Framework which, tog ether with national funds, will amount to 16 trillion drachmas. He said that so much money has never come into the country in the past.

Karamanlis says gov't in `state of dissolution`

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday stressed that Greece currently projects an image of "sadness, disappointment, stagnation and decline," while he said unemployment is being felt by every Greek family.

Addressing a rally at the ND-affiliated youth group's (ONNED) festival outside the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliro yesterday evening, Mr. Karamanlis strongly criticised the Simitis government over its handling of major issues, saying that the government lacked boldness and that there was a worsening in all sectors instead of an improvement.

Referring to economic issues, he said the cases of Olympic Airways, Greece's debt-ridden national carrier, and of Ionian Bank were fiascos, adding that there must be respect for the tax-paying citizen, "who is constantly paying, without his money having any impact."

Commenting on national issues, Mr. Karamanlis said that Greece must defend its national rights, and not experience humiliations such as that during the crisis over the Imia islets (in January 1996), as he noted.

"The struggle for tomorrow will not be made with dividing lines but will be a struggle between the past and decline with the forces of tomorrow and of progress," he said.

SE European countries agree on regional peacekeeping force

An agreement on the creation of a peacekeeping force by southeastern Europe countries was signed in Skopje on Saturday, although several issues remained undecided, such as the headquarters for the new force.

The agreement was signed during a meeting of defence ministers from Greece, Turkey, Italy, the US, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Slovenia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Commenting on the creation of the multinational peacekeeping force, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said it was a good step towards strengthening security and stability in a region which has traditional flashpoints.

He added that "an instrument was created to implement a collective security policy."

The multinational peacekeeping force is expected to be activated in the second half of 1999. Greece also made a proposal, which was initially accepted, for the creation of a centre for managing crises in the Balkans.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also briefed his counterparts that at the end of the year a centre will begin operating in Kilkis, northern Greece, to train officers and soldiers from countries participating in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme with the purp ose of backing peacekeeping operations.

Europarliament's Spencer confident Cyprus will join EU

Cyprus will become a member of the European Union regardless of developments over the Cyprus problem, the president of the Europarliament's foreign affairs committee, Tom Spencer, told reporters in Thessaloniki yesterday.

Mr. Spencer was in Thessaloniki to take part in a European Peoples' Party and New Democracy Eurodeputies' conference on the topic of "Urban Environment and the Quality of Life: Thessaloniki and the European experience".

Also present at the meeting was the vice-president of the European Parliament, Nicole Fontaine.

Mr. Spencer said Cyprus' EU accession would reduce the possibility of any Turkish offensive on the island.

Turkey's own prospects for joining the EU, he added, were tied in with other issues, such as the human rights situation.

Medical examiners: Matei choked on his own vomit

Three medical examiners ruled yesterday that Greek-Romanian fugitive Sorin Matei died by choking on his own vomit, according to preliminary autopsy findings.

Matei, who died suddenly late Saturday morning while being treated at the Korydallos prison's hospital, was at the centre of Wednesday's botched police raid in central Athens, which left one hostage and a police officer seriously injured.

Four coroners assigned to conduct the autopsy on Matei said the 25-year-old escaped convict had choked to death, as a result of being heavily sedated and bound. They also stated that he should not have been moved to the prison hospital. Matei had been under sedation and heavy police guard since late on Wednesday.

He had held police at bay for hours and threatened to detonate a hand grenade in a central Athens apartment in which he was holding three hostages.

On the day he died, he was scheduled to give a statement to a prosecutor assigned the inquiry into the details of the raid, which left a total of 12 people, including the head and deputy chief of Greek police, injured. The head of the Greek Police resigned and two other senior police officials were replaced in the wake of severe criticism of police's handling of the raid.

A report on the definitive cause of Matei's death will be issued on completion of all toxicology and other tests.

Polish army's chief of staff in Greece

Polish Army General Staff Chief Lt.-Gen. Zvignieu Zalewski will begin an official three-day visit to Greece today at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Lt.-Gen. Manousos Paragioudakis.

During his stay, the Polish army's commander will visit Greece's military headquarters, a training centre, the Third Army Corps, as well as archaeological sites in Athens and Thessaloniki. Lt.-Gen. Zalewski will depart Greece on Oct. 1.

Greek runner wins 16th annual "Spartathlon '98"

A Greek runner won the 16th international ultra-distance race "Spartathlon '98" on Saturday. Costas Reppos, who won the race for the second consecutive year, covered the distance in 25 hours, 11 minutes, 41 seconds. He led the race from start to finish.

Also taking part in the race, which began on Friday at the foot of the Acropolis, were 196 athletes from 23 countries.

Runners covered the 246 kilometres to Sparta, tracing the steps of the ancient Athenian courier Pheidippides. A Japanese and a Briton took second and third place, respectively.

Balkan bilateral, multilateral cooperation to be discussed

Bilateral and multilateral cooperation between Greece, Bulgaria and Romania as well as the situation in the region will be the main issues for discussion between Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov and Romanian President Emil Constantinescu in Delphi on Oct. 3-4, according to a Bulgarian presidency press release on Saturday.

An ANA dispatch from Sofia quoted the press release as saying that the tripartite meeting will contribute in balancing inter-state relations between the Balkan countries for the promotion of economic cooperation and for stability in the Balkans.

Other issues to be discussed by the three leaders will be the combatting of organised crime and plans for the enlargement of the European Union and NATO.

Greek first division soccer results

Panionios Athens-Panelefsiniakos 3-0 Kavala-Aris Thessaloniki 3-1 Veria-Apollon Athens 1-1 Panathinaikos-Ionikos Piraeus 2-1 OFI Heraklion-AEK Athens 0-1 Ethnikos Piraeus-PAOK Thessaloniki 1- 1 Paniliakos Pyrgos-Olympiakos Piraeus 1-0 Iraklis Thessaloniki-Ethnikos Astir Athens 1-1 Proodeftiki Piraeus-Xanthi 1- 2 Standings/points: AEK 13, Panathinaikos 12, Olympiakos, Aris, Ionikos, Xanthi 10, Paniliakos 9, Iraklis, Kavala, Ethnikos 7.

WEATHER

Cloud will increase in the Ionian and on the mainland today, spreading to the rest of the country, with storms expected in the west. Winds southerly moderate to strong. Scattered cloud in Athens increasing in the afternoon with temperatures from 18-30C. Thessaloniki will be overcast with possible rain and temperatures from 16-26C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 287.402 British pound 489.116 Japanese yen (100) 213.449 French franc 51.417 German mark 172.420 Italian lira (100) 17.435 Irish Punt 431.222 Belgian franc 8.357 Finnish mark 56.633 Dutch guilder 152.887 Danish kr. 45.291 Austrian sch. 24.497 Spanish peseta 2.030 Swedish kr. 36.525 Norwegian kr. 38.823 Swiss franc 208.439 Port. Escudo 1.679 Aus. dollar 169.344 Can. dollar 190.047 Cyprus pound 581.848

(C.E.)


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