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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-05-10

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, 10/05/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis says continyed NATO bombings entail only dangers
  • G. Papandreou: Latest NATO strikes hinder diplomatic moves
  • Opposition condemns latest NATO bombings
  • Hellenic Petroleum majority purchase of FYROM refinery
  • Marathon peace march
  • Portugal's premier arrives in Thessaloniki
  • Stephanopoulos begins visit to Georgia
  • Romanian cadet class in Greece this week
  • Karamanlis calls war in Yugoslavia a 'mistake'
  • Skandalidis addresses PASOK campaign event in Rodopi prefecture
  • Anti-war rallies at N. Greece border posts
  • Gov't pleased with pilot 35-work week in bank sector
  • Bus union calls-off strikes
  • Greek first division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Simitis says continyed NATO bombings entail only dangers

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday expressed his deep regret for the victims of the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia, while stressing the indignation of the Greek people as well.

Speaking in the frontier post of Krystallopighi in Florina prefecture, on the Greek-Albanian border, the premier formally inaugurated the operation of a 1,000-strong border guard.

At the ceremony, Mr. Simitis said the continuation of the NATO bombings entailed only dangers, while a G-8 decision had vindicated Greece's positions. He added that flexibility was necesssary for peace to be achieved in the Balkans and that prudence and caution were necessary in the implementation of any policy applied for peace in the region.

Mr. Simitis said Greece would do all it can for a political solution to the crisis, noting that the EU would discuss later this month a plan submitted by the Greek government for the reconstruction of the Balkans.

The premier further expressed satisfaction that Greece had not allowed itself to become a part of the problem, averting the policies which he said had desired to push the country into the margin.

Mr. Simitis, accompanied by a group of ministers and MPs, was in Krystallophighi for the installation of the new border guard corps - 100 of which are women - in the prefectures of Florina, Kastoria and Ioannina.

The Greek PM told local residents that the government was advancing the development of the region, particularly Macedonia, which would comprise the basis for the development of Greece's relations with the neighbouring countries.

He noted that one trillion drachmas had been allocated for projects in the region under the Second Community Support Framework (CSF), adding that substantial funds would also be earmarked under the Third CSF.

Mr. Simitis further recalled that some 20,000 smaller and larger-scale projects were currently being carried out througout the country.

G. Papandreou: Latest NATO strikes hinder diplomatic moves

Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Saturday that diplomatic moves to end the Kosovo crisis had been hindered by the latest round of NATO bombings.

"The bombings over the last two days that struck civilian targets and led to casualties among civilians create problems in the diplomatic attempt," Mr. Papandreou said during a visit to Stockholm.

He said Greece backed a recent initiative by the G8 group of nations to end the Kosovo crisis through political means, which had "engendered hopes of success".

"(The attempt) must continue and receive support from everyone so that we can arrive at adoption of the U.N. Security Council's resolution as soon as possible," Mr. Papandreou said.

Opposition condemns latest NATO bombings

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos yesterday called for an immediate end to NATO's bombardment of Yugoslavia, following the deadly air strikes against a civilian marketplace in Nis and against the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) called the attack an "escalation," adding that "...only the language of popular reaction fits these international criminals (NATO)."

A Coalition for the Left (Synaspismos) press release termed the attack "a war crime," and an act that "bombs the attempt to find a peaceful political solution."

Greece's newest party, the "Liberals", established by former ND deputy Stephanos Manos, also issued a press release condemning the attacks.

Hellenic Petroleum majority purchase of FYROM refinery

Hellenic Petroleum on Saturday signed contracts with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to buy a majority stake in a refinery in that country and build a cross-border oil pipeline.

The contracts were signed here at a ceremony attended by FYROM PM Ljupco Georgievski and Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

The Greek oil company, which is listed on the Athens bourse, will purchase a majority stake in FYROM's OKTA refinery and ugrade the facility.

Working with Meton SA, a Greek engineering contractor, Hellenic Petroleum will also build a 230-kilometre oil pipeline linking Skopje and Thessaloniki with a capacity of 2.5 million tons of crude oil annually.

The contract was signed by FYROM's finance minister, Boris Stojmeno, on behalf of the Skopje government.

According to the arrangement, within a three-year framework the strategic investor agrees to design, build and manage the oil pipeline, with an 80 per cent stake. The rest will be held by the FYROM state with a right to transfer to third parties.

The Greek side will hold 54 per cent of the OKTA facility, while the total investment package will eventually reach US$ 182 million.

In a related development, Skopje also announced that it will abolish visa requirements for Greek citizens wanting to visit the country.

Marathon peace march

The Greek committee for international detente and peace yesterday organised a protest march against the war in Yugoslavia, beginning in Marathon and concluding in central Athens' Syntagma Square.

Committee president Evangelos Maheras said Greek public opinion demands an end to the war,

The march stopped briefly in front the US embassy and upon its arrival at Syntagma Square a resolution was read out.

Portugal's premier arrives in Thessaloniki

Portuguese Premier Antonio Guterres arrived in Thessaloniki yesterday afternoon for an unofficial visit and talks with his Greek counterpart Costas Simitis.

Mr. Simitis last night hosted a dinner in Mr. Guterres' honour, while the two leaders will visit the all-male monastic community of Mount Athos today.

The two premiers will hold a working session tomorrow morning, followed by a joint press conference.

Sources said Greece was looking forward to the meeting with interest as the two countries face similar problems within the European Union. In addition, Portugal assumes the rotating EU presidency in the second half of 1999, during which time credits for EU member-states under the Third Community Support Framework will be approved.

Stephanopoulos begins visit to Georgia

President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday began a state visit top Georgia and was greeted on arrival by his Georgian counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze. Mr Stephanopoulos is returning an official visit by Mr Shevardnadze in Greece two years ago.

The two men are to meet today, while Deputy Foreign Minister Gregoris Niotis and Deputy Economy Minister Alekos Baltas are expected to sign two agreements with their Georgian counterparts.

During an inauguration ceremony of one of 10 medical clinics built by the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), Mr. Stephanopoulos said the creation of such facilities for the Greek expatriates and other local residents is gift from Greece to Georgia.

Mr. Shevardnadze, who also participated in the event, said the people of Greece and Georgia feel as "brothers", while he noted that both countries will do what is necessary to resolve the differences in the Caucasus region.

In a related development, Mr. Stephanopoulos was named an honourary citizen of the Georgian capital.

Romanian cadet class in Greece this week

Fifty-nine officer cadets from Romania's national defence academy will arrive Greece this week as part of an educational exchange programme.

The group of cadets will visit the Third Army Corps, the Greek national defence academy, the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB), as well as archaeological sites in Attica prefectures.

Karamanlis calls war in Yugoslavia a 'mistake'

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis over the weekend criticised the PASOK government for its economic and foreign policies, while on tour of the Ionian islands.

Addressing ND supporters on the island of Lefkada yesterday, he claimed that the government's lack of policy kept Greece out of the initial phase of the European Monetary Union.

Mr. Karamanlis said Greece does not have an agricultural policy and as a result has lost all the negotiation battles at the EU level, while it has wasted the community funds allocated to agriculture.

He added that Greece's tax system is "unbearable, unfair and takes taxpayers by surprise."

On Saturday, speaking to ND members in Cephallonia, Mr. Karamanlis said the war in Yugoslavia was a "mistake", since it has caused thousands of victims and even more pronounced violations of human rights.

Skandalidis addresses PASOK campaign event in Rodopi prefecture

Ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis yesterday addressed a party campaign committee of Rodopi prefecture, northeastern Greece.

Mr. Skandalidis announced that Prime Minister Costas Simitis will officially begin PASOK's Euroelection campaign this Saturday in Komotini.

He also said the premier will convey a message of security, cooperation and development, expressing his certainty that all citizens of the region, both Christian and Muslim, will welcome him.

Mr. Skandalidis again criticised opposition parties for demagoguery, adding that the country's highest interests are at stake in the upcoming election.

Anti-war rallies at N. Greece border posts

Hundreds of northern Greece residents protested at the Promahomas and Evzones border posts yesterday against the NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia.

A resolution issued by the events' organisers called for the peoples of Europe to pressure their governments to "end the blood bath in Yugoslavia," and for intellectuals throughout the world to take a stand against the "NATO bombings and murder of civilians".

Local officials, performers and prefectural leaders participated in the protests, with addresses focused on solidarity to the Yugoslav people.

Environment Deputy Minister Theodoros Koliopanos yesterday briefed the informal European Union environment ministerial council on the environmental repercussions from the war in Yugoslavia.

Denmark and the Netherlands supported Athens' proposal for a detailed listing of the damages.

Gov't pleased with pilot 35-work week in bank sector

Deputy Labour Minister Christos Protopapas on Saturday welcomed a decision by bank managements and bank employee unions to launch a pilot scheme for a 35-hour work week. Speaking in Thessaloniki, Mr. Protopapas said he hoped other sectors also would try out the shorter work week, following agreement between employers' federations and employees' unions.

"We realise the complexity of application, but we feel that a pilot study of the 35-hour week will lead to a positive appraisal and contribute to a broader attempt to modernise and restructure the sector," Mr. Protopapas said.

The government has stated that it backs initiatives by companies or sectors to shorten work hours, but has refused to legislate the change.

Intracom, Greece's foremost information technology and equipment manufacturer, has said it will proceed with the scheme. The company is a blue chip on the Athens bourse whose customers include NATO and the Greek armed forces.

The banking sector agreement was reached at the end of lasts week by the Union of Greek Banks and the OTOE umbrella bank employees' union.

Bus union calls-off strikes

The union of the greater Athens area's bus workers said on Saturday that it had called-off work stoppages scheduled for this month. The union's board suspended the strikes after snap talks between the management of the state- run Athens Urban Transport Organisation (OASA) and Transport Minister Tassos Mantelis.

Trolley, metro and bus drivers have staged stoppages to protest a government overhaul of the capital's public transport system.

The plan includes turning sector companies into subsidiaries of OASA and changing the terms of employment of drivers.

Greek first division soccer results

AEK Athens-Kavala 4-0 Aris Thessaloniki-Apollon Athens 2-1 Ethnikos Astir-OFI Iraklion 1-0 Ionikos Piraeus-Panelefsiniakos 3- 0 Xanthi-Ethnikos Piraeus 2-0 Olympiakos-Panathinaikos 0-0 Panionios-Iraklis Thessaloniki 3-2 PAOK Thessaloniki-Veria 2-0 Proodeftiki-Paniliakos Pyrgos 2-0 Standings/points: Olympiakos 72, AEK 64, Panathinaikos 61, PAOK 53, Xanthi 49, Aris 48, Ionikos 47, OFI 45, Iraklis 43.

WEATHER

Overcast weather with local showers and storms is forecast for central Greece, Macedonia, Thrace and the northern Aegean on today. Cloudiness in the rest of the country. Athens will be partly cloudy, increasing in the afternoon and possibly turning to rain or storms in the north, and temperatures from 12-24C. Same for Thessaloniki with temperatures between 10-19C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          299.564
Pound sterling       488.987
Japanese yen (100)   248.853
French franc          49.289
German mark          165.307
Italian lira (100)    16.697
Irish Punt           410.522
Belgian franc          8.015
Luxembourg franc       8.015
Finnish mark          54.377
Dutch guilder        146.713
Danish kr.            43.535
Austrian sch.         23.497
Spanish peseta         1.943
Swedish kr.           36.049
Norwegian kr.         39.224
Swiss franc          201.589
Port. Escudo           1.613
Aus. dollar          199.640
Can. dollar          205.146
Cyprus pound         560.460
Euro                 323.313
(C.E.)
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