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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-02-15

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, 15/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • PM warns of inflationary pressure
  • Locals protest over Kurdish refugees
  • One killed, four injured in police raid
  • Farmers begin gradually heading home
  • PM underlines commitment to health care
  • New Chief of Staff for armed forces
  • 15 Kurds on hunger strike for Ocalan
  • Athens hosts first regional audio-visual meet
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

PM warns of inflationary pressure

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Monday that inflation would continue to fall to reach 2.5 percent at the end of 1999 but warned of possible inflationary pressures before then. "Lower inflation is not only the responsibility of the government but all of those who participate in the economy," Simitis said in Thessaloniki during a luncheon held in his honour by the city's MPs and businessmen. He said inflationary pressures were possible through an increase in currency circulation. Unemployment had fallen "marginally" on the basis of the latest figures, he said, adding that there was a need for more effective employment programmes.

Locals protest over Kurdish refugees

Tension mounted in an Athens suburb on Monday as local residents protested the transfer of more than 300 Kurdish political refugees from a downtown Athens square that had been turned into an refugee camp. The Kurdish familes had been languishing in Koumoundourou Square for more than a year after being illegally ferried to Greece from Turkey. Police swooped on the make-shift camp at dawn Monday, and transferred the Kurds on police buses to the Welfare Services building in Aghia Varvara suburb, next to the Egaleo suburb in eastern Athens. On seeing the busloads arriving, local residents took to the streets led by the two mayors, and tried to bar the refugees' relocation to a disused hospital for contagious diseases.

One killed, four injured in police raid

One person was killed and four policemen were injured in a handgrenade explosion when police raided a ferryboat in the central Greek port city of Rio, public order ministry sources said today. According to initial reports, police acting on a tip raided the ferry "Eleni B" as it entered the port from Antirio to arrest a group of seven Albanians who were due to arrive in three cars loaded with drugs. Spotting the police, the Albanians opened fire and one of them threw a handgrenade, killing one of the other suspects and wounding four policemen, who were rushed to a local hospital. Two of the policemen also had bullet wounds. The other six Albanians were arrested and a search of their cars revealed 50 kilograms of hashish, a kalashnikov rifle and a handgrenade.

Farmers begin gradually heading home

Farmers in central Greece threatening to close national roads on Monday abandoned protests with "their heads held high," a farmers' representative said. Farmers had lined up their tractors along the sides of national roads at several points along the Athens-Thessaloniki motorway in central Greece last Monday, to demand lower debt repayment rates. They warned of a repeat of protest action in 1997, when the country's road and rail network was paralysed by tractor blockades. Last week, the government announced a 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.

PM underlines commitment to health care

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said today that the government was determined to improve the national health system, smoothing access to efficient healthcare for all Greek citizens. He was speaking at the inauguration of a new Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Thessaloniki's Papanikolaou Hospital in northern Greece. The unit was a donation by the Association of Friends of Children with Cancer. Simitis said there were numerous problems and issues in the health sector that needed to be solved.

New Chief of Staff for armed forces

Outgoing Greek Chief of Staff Athanasios Tzoganis handed over the reins to his successor Manoussis Paragioudakis on Monday at a ceremony at the national defence headquarters. Present at the ceremony were the political and military staff of the ministry and armed forces. Paragioudakis, formerly chief of the Army General Staff, was named by the Cabinet as the new head of Greece's armed forces in November. General Athanasios Tzoganis will retire with the title of honorary chief of the general staff, after completing the longest permissible term in the post.

15 Kurds on hunger strike for Ocalan

Fifteen Kurds began a hunger strike outside the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Monday to demand political asylum for fugitive Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. A statement from the Solidarity Committee for Kurdistan condemned "the continuing hypocritical policy of the international community over the Kurdish issue and the issue of poltical asylum" for Ocalan. Ocalan, in a statement faxed to Greek and foreign media over the weekend, castigated the Russian, Greek, German and French governments for their stance on the Kurdish issue and failure to give him asylum.

Athens hosts first regional audio-visual meet

Greece hosts the first Southeast European conference on audio-visual media on February 19, with the participation of 11 countries. The two-day conference hopes to lay the groundwork for greater cooperation in the sector among the countries of the Balkans. Countries participating include Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Yugoslavia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia and Turkey. On the agenda of the inaugural conference, which is organised by the Greek Institute for A-V Media, are the legal and institutional framework for A-V means in southeast Europe and the social and economic aspects of the sector. The conference will be held at the Zappeion Hall.

WEATHER

Unsettled weather will prevail throughout Greece today. Sleet or snow in northern Greece and the mountainous regions of the country, with improvement later in the day. Rain with sunny spells in central and southern Greece. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Athens will be partly cloudy with possibility of rain and temperatures ranging from 4-12C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 1-8C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 283.920 Pound sterling 461.915 Japanese yen (100) 248.069 French franc 48.699 German mark 163.329 Italian lira (100) 16.498 Irish Punt 405.610 Belgian franc 7.919 Luxenburg franc 7.919 Finnish mark 53.727 Dutch guilder 144.957 Danish kr. 42.962 Austrian sch. 23.215 Spanish peseta 1.920 Swedish kr. 35.764 Norwegian kr. 36.952 Swiss franc 199.491 Port. Escudo 1.593 Aus. dollar 182.325 Can. dollar 190.206 Cyprus pound 548.576 Euro 319.444

(M.P.)


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