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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-05-19

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, 19/05/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Kosovo peace not yet a given, Athens cautions
  • FM Papandreou in meetings with Kosovo envoys
  • Kranidiotis chairs aid coordination meeting
  • Government details job action plan
  • Greenpeace: bombing pollutants no risk to public
  • No more Nana Mouskouri in Europarliament
  • Greece congratulates Barak on Israel poll win
  • Road safety stressed in new traffic code
  • Police crack false ID ring
  • Bulgarian woman offers infant for sale
  • Greek equities move into new record territory
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Kosovo peace not yet a given, Athens cautions

Greece said on Wednesday that a political solution to the Yugoslav problem was nearer than ever but warned against excessive optimism, saying it would be wrong to think that a settlement was just days away. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the Greek government was doing all it could in the direction of a political solution to the Kosovo crisis and welcomed the fact that the "front of countries" which are in favour of such a solution was broadening. Reppas said Foreign Minister George Papandreou would today be having a number of important contacts in Helsinki.

FM Papandreou in meetings with Kosovo envoys

Papandreou, who on Tuesday had talks in Helsinki with Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen and counterpart Tarja Halonen, was due to meet with President Marti Ahtisaari who has assumed a special mediatory role in efforts to resolve the Kosovo crisis. Papandreou later referred to talks in Helsinki between the United States, Russia and the European Union as "the most serious and systematic diplomatic effort to date... a turning point in the Kosovo crisis". He added that it would depend on "all sides" whether a settlement will result, according to an ANA despatch from Helsinki. The US delegation at the talks was headed by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, Russia was represented by its Balkans envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin. The EU was represented by Ahtisaari in his role as special mediator.

Kranidiotis chairs aid coordination meeting

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis said later that Greece was fully supportive of the initiative under way in the framework of the G8 proposal and expressed the hope that efforts would bear fruit. Kranidiotis was speaking after chairing a meeting of Greek, Russian and Swiss officials on coordinating humanitarian aid shipments to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Attending the meeting were Russian Emergency Services Minister Sergei Soygu, the director of development cooperation at the Swiss foreign ministry Walther Fist, and Alexander Rondos, the Greek foreign minister's Balkans special envoy.

Government details job action plan

Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou today presented his proposals on a national action plan for employment to be submitted to the European Union. The plan was presented during a meeting, chaired by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, with Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Deputy Finance Minister George Drys. Deputy Labour Minister Christos Protopapas said the plan included measures offering private companies the capability to abstract from their profits a sum up to 50 percent of employers' contributions for every new hired worker.

Greenpeace: bombing pollutants no risk to public

The environmental organisation Greenpeace said on Wednesday that although dioxins and carcinogenic hydrocarbons resulting from NATO military operations in Yugoslavia had reached Greece, the current levels did not pose an immediate danger for public health. "The levels of toxic substances which have been measured do not entail an immediate risk for public health in Greece," representatives of the organisation's Greek branch told a news conference. Branch head Stelios Psomas said available data from readings to date undoubtedly lent weight to the view that depending on the meteorological conditions prevailing, toxic substances do reach Greece from Yugoslavia.

No more Nana Mouskouri in Europarliament

Greece's conservative opposition party New Democracy on Wednesday announced its candidates for June's European Parliament elections, dropping six incumbent deputies, including singer Nana Mouskouri, from the list. The new list, presented by leader Costas Karamanlis, is headed by former health minister Marietta Yiannakou, followed by UN diplomat Christos Zaharakis and professor Antonis Trakatellis. Included on the 25-member list is renowned composer Stavras Xarhakos, who was briefly a Member of Parliament with New Democracy. Xarhakos is best known for his music for the film "Rebetiko", which led to a resurgence in the interest of rebetiko music - the "Greek blues" - both in Greece and abroad.

Greece congratulates Barak on Israel poll win

Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis on Tuesday congratulated Israeli Labour Party leader Ehud Barak on winning national elections in the country. "I am sure that Mr. Barak's government will give new impetus to the peace process for a comprehensive, permanent and just solution to the Mideast region in the framework of the Oslo and Wye River agreements," Kranidiotis said in a statement. "Greece will do its utmost to assist this endeavour. I believe that the existing very good relations between Greece and Israel will be further improved and will constitute the basis for peace and security in the region of the eastern Mediterranean," the minister said.

Road safety stressed in new traffic code

Greece's notoriously unruly drivers will have to wrestle with a new traffic code as of Monday, when stiffer fines and penalties come in for those used to driving recklessly. The new code aims at fostering safer driving practices on Greek roads and protecting pedestrians, passengers, children, the disabled and drivers themselves, of both motorbikes and cars. More than 2000 people die on Greek roads annually in road accidents, leaving 30,000 injured, 4000 of them seriously. The Greek toll is one of the highest in Europe, more than double the average in Britain and the Netherlands, which have the lowest casualty rates. Under the new code, illegally overtaking other cars, driving down lanes in the wrong direction, reckless driving manoeuvres and overloading will carry fines of 100,000 drachmas. Running red lights and stop signs will also carry a fine of 100,000 drachmas.

Police crack false ID ring

Athens police on Wednesday said they had broken up a forgery ring which provided false documents to foreigners mainly from the countries of the former Soviet Union. The police said the arrests of the four Greeks was the culmination of a long investigation. The main customers of the forgery ring were foreign women working in nightclubs who reportedly paid 200,000 drachmas each to be supplied with false residence and work permits. But the gang also forged passports, identity cards, vehicle registration documents, driving licences, high school diplomas, voting booklets, credit cards, receipts of payment to the state and income tax settlements which they supplied to Greeks and foreigners for amounts of between 50,000 and 200,000 drachmas.

Bulgarian woman offers infant for sale

Police on Wednesday said they had arrested a 43-year-old Bulgarian woman after she tried to sell her month-old baby boy for three million drachmas. The woman and her two male companions be charged, probably on Thursday. They were identified as Constantinova Velitska, Staniou Mirtsen, 34, and Christos Vasilef, 31. Police said they received a tip-off that a foreign couple living in a hotel in the western Athens suburb of Korydallos was touting the baby for sale at a neighbouring square. Police officers posing as prospective "buyers" approached the three Bulgarians and made an overture. Velitska offered to sell them the infant for three million drachmas.

Greek equities move into new record territory

Equity prices broke into new record territory on Wednesday despite ending sharply off intraday's highs. Hopes of an end to the war in Yugoslavia, steady US interest rates and positive forecasts on the Greek economy by the Orgranisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and by US credit rating agency Moody's encouraged sentiment in the market and pushed the general index briefly to the resistance level of 4,250 points before succumbing to profit-taking. The index ended at 4,109.10 points, up only 0.06 percent, its 28th record this year. Turnover was heavy at 219.729 billion drachmas with 39,272,034 shares changing hands.

WEATHER

The forecast for today is sunshine with scattered cloud and the likelihood of showers in the northern Ionian, Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace. Winds southeasterly mild to moderate. Northeasterly moderate to strong in the Aegean. Athens will be partly cloudy with temperatures ranging from 17-28C. Thessaloniki will be overcast with a chance of rain and temperatures ranging from 15C to 25C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Wednesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          302.084
Pound sterling       489.453
Japanese yen (100)   245.788
French franc          49.210
German mark          165.043
Italian lira (100)    16.672
Irish Punt           409.868
Belgian franc          8.002
Luxembourg franc       8.002
Finnish mark          54.290
Dutch guilder        146.479
Danish kr.            43.434
Austrian sch.         23.459
Spanish peseta         1.940
Swedish kr.           35.869
Norwegian kr.         39.293
Swiss franc          201.475
Port. Escudo           1.610
Can. dollar          206.812
Aus. dollar          202.844
Cyprus pound         558.496
Euro                 322.797
(M.P.)
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