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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-10

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, 10/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Government pledges to write off farmers' debts
  • FM reiterates Greek position on Kosovo in Belgrade
  • Athens critical of Ankara's reaction to consulate bomb
  • U.S., Greece to hold talks on bases, defence cooperation
  • Ship held on suspicion of trawler ramming
  • Impressive mosaic found at Thessaloniki dig
  • Athens taxi drivers to strike on Monday
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Government pledges to write off farmers' debts

The government on Wednesday announced what appeared to be a very favourable package of measures to facilitate the repayment by farmers of debts to the Agricultural Bank of Greece, according to which 50 per cent of outstanding debts will be written off. The package was announced by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis after a meeting today. Farmers demanding lower debt repayment rates and satisfaction of other issues have warned of a repeat of protest action in 1997, when the country's road and rail network was paralysed by tractor blockades. On Monday, they began congregating at several points along the Athens-Thessaloniki motorway in central Greece but have not yet blocked traffic. The measures announced on Wednesday also provide for the write-off of all default interest due, 50 per cent of accrued interest and refinancing with new loans at favourable interest rates.

FM reiterates Greek position on Kosovo in Belgrade

Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos after talks on Wednesday with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic reiterated Greece's position that the Kosovo crisis should be resolved within the framework of UN resolutions, international law and respect for existing borders, according to an ANA despatch from Belgrade. Pangalos was speaking at the end of a two-day visit to Belgrade, where he also had talks on Wednesday with Deputy Premier Vuk Draskovic and the leaders of the opposition coalition "Alliance for Change" Zoran Jijic and Vesna Pesic. On Tuesday, Pangalos had talks with Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, the President of the Federal Parliament's council of citizens Milomir Minic and his Yugoslav counterpart Zivadin Jovanovic.

Athens critical of Ankara's reaction to consulate bomb

Athens on Wednesday criticised Turkish reactions to a bomb attack on its consulate in the northern Greek city of Komotini, saying its stance was not conducive to creating a climate of stability in the region. "The Turkish government is following a policy of tension," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. "Ankara can not act as prosecutor and judge for everybody." According to an AFP dispatch, Ankara claimed that the attack, which injured a Greek bomb disposal expert, was a result of Greece's "hostile policies". The explosion occurred Monday night across the street from the consulate on the first floor of a half-completed building, about 20 metres from the consulate's courtyard. The area had been cordoned off by police after they received an anonymous warning call about the bomb. The Greek government had issued a strong condemnation of the attack, underlining that such actions were aimed at harming Greek-Turkish relations.

U.S., Greece to hold talks on bases, defence cooperation

The Greek and U.S. governments will begin talks aimed at clinching a comprehensive technical agreement on the status of U.S. forces serving in Greece, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday. The talks will be conducted alternately in Athens and Washington and fall under the provisions of a 1990 U.S.-Greek accord on mutual defence cooperation. The U.S. operates an air base at Souda, Crete. The talks are also expected to deal with issues of bilateral defence cooperation, which the ministry statement said would be a "positive step forward" in Greek-U.S. relations. The head of the Greek delegation to the talks will be ambassador Lyssandros Miliaressis-Fokas. The U.S. delegation will be led by a U.S. State Department official yet to be named.

Ship held on suspicion of trawler ramming

The Greek coast guard has arrested a Panamanian-flag freighter suspected of ramming a Greek trawler that went missing January 24 with its 7-member crew, merchant marine ministry officials said Wednesday. The freighter, identified as the 3,000-ton Annita T, was arrested late Tuesday at Ikonio, with a 13-member crew of Russians and Ukrainians aboard. The Annita T was spotted as it was sailing, without cargo, off the island of Aegina in the Saronic Gulf with serious damage to its bow. Coast guard authorities, seamen and the trawler's owner have conjectured that ramming by a larger vessel was the only plausible explanation for the Lymberios' sinking without a trace so quickly in smooth weather given its good condition and the captain and engineer's experience.

Impressive mosaic found at Thessaloniki dig

Archaeologists working on a dig in Thessaloniki's Ano Poli district, the older part of the city, have found an impressive mosaic depicting the zodiac cycle dating from the 5th century A.D. The mosaic, measuring 9.6 by 6.5 metres (or 60 square metres in total), is thought to have been the centrepiece of a large reception hall in the home of some Byzantine noble. Details of the find will be presented on Thursday, the first day of the three-day 12th annual meeting of archaeologists working in Macedonia and Thrace. The parts of the mosaic that have been saved depict the personifaction of Pisces, Taurus and Capricorn - in black, white, red, blue and ochre - as well as images of four of the months - April, May, June and July - and the South wind, which is depicted as a beautiful face, blowing through an enormous cockle shell. Archaeologists spent four months painstakingly putting pieces of the mosaic together and it has been transferred to the city's Byzantine Museum where it is soon to go on display.

Athens taxi drivers to strike on Monday

Taxi drivers in Athens said on Wednesday they would hold a 24-hour strike on February 15 to protest the presence of unlicensed taxi drivers operating in the capital. The taxi drivers said they were suffering from the unfair competition unlicensed drivers brought, due, they said, to the lack of a 'reliable' registry of licensed taxis. The strike will begin at 5 a.m. on Monday morning.

WEATHER

Partly cloudy weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today with rain in the west of the country. By nightfall, rain is also expected in mainland Greece and the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean. Snow will fall in the mountainous regions of central and northern Greece. Winds southerly, southwesterly, strong, turning gale force in the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea. Possibility of rain in the evening in Athens with temperatures between 5-15C. Rain from the afternoon in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 2- 10C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 282.482 Pound sterling 463.085 Japanese yen (100) 246.145 French franc 48.767 German mark 163.557 Italian lira (100) 16.521 Irish Punt 406.176 Belgian franc 7.930 Finnish mark 53.802 Dutch guilder 145.160 Danish kr. 43.021 Austrian sch. 23.248 Spanish peseta 1.922 Swedish kr. 35.950 Norwegian kr. 36.996 Swiss franc 199.640 Port. Escudo 1.595 Aus. dollar 182.687 Can. dollar 189.170 Cyprus pound 552.544

(M.P.)


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