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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-05-25
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 25/05/1999 (ANA)
NEWS IN DETAILGreece, Estonia discuss Kosovo concerns
Prime Minister Costas Simitis had talks on Tuesday with Estonian President Lennart Meri focusing on developments in the Yugoslav conflict and bilateral relations. Speaking to reporters after the talks, Simitis said both sides agreed on the need for a stepping up of efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo crisis. Replying to reporters' questions, Simitis reiterated that Greece remained firmly in favour of a diplomatic solution to the crisis, adding that Athens believed such a solution was quite feasible. Meri, who arrived in Athens on Sunday for a four-day official visit, said he fully understood Greece's "concerns and sensitivity" regarding its neighbours "with which it wishes to maintain good relations".
Athens to present ceasefire proposal
The government said on Tuesday that Greece would submit a Greek-Czech proposal for a 48-hour ceasefire in the Yugoslav conflict at the forthcoming meeting of Alliance permanent representatives. Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said on Monday that Greece and the Czech Republic had agreed on the proposal which is aimed at providing "the necessary period for the speeding up of the Kosovo peace initiative". Reppas reiterated today that Greece supported the G8 draft peace proposals for peace in Kosovo, while adding that maximum use should be made of the mediating efforts of Russia's special envoy for the Balkans, Viktor Chernomyrdin, and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari. Foreign Minister George Papandreou is due to brief UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the proposal before any relevant resolution by the UN Security Council.
Second Kosovo group heads to Australia via Greece
A second group of Kosovo refugees will transit through Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport on Thursday, en route to temporary shelter in Australia, local authorities said. The group will reach Thessaloniki by road from Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and are expected to arrive at the northern Greek city's airport at around 10.30 a.m. They are expected to depart the city for Australia at around 2.15 p.m. and will be accommodated at the airport while they wait. A group of some 375 Kosovo Albanians, mostly family groups with relatives in Australia, left Thessaloniki for Sydney last Thursday.
Media watchdog may discuss bias claims
Charges that the Greek media has been biased in its reporting of the Kosovo crisis may be brought before the Greek National Radio and Television Council (ERS), the media watchdog responsible for licencing and other issues, the council's chairman said on Tuesday. Pavlos Sourlas told parliament's institutions and transparency committee that media directors and some of those charging the Greek media has been biased may be called before the council for a discussion of the claims. Some commentators have said the Greek media has presented a distorted picture of the situation in Kosovo. Others, including some Greek reporters, have claimed that reports have been selectively edited in Athens to present a different picture. The Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) has defended the work of its members against the charges, saying that the Greek press and media work to present the facts without bias.
Turkish fisherman arrested off Chios
Greek port authorities on Tuesday arrested a Turkish fisherman after his boat was found in Greek territorial waters off the eastern Aegean island of Chios. Authorities identified the Turkish national as Yassar Selahattin, 40. A coast guard patrol found Selahattin fishing in his trawler Sovasogon 2 in Greek waters at dawn in the bay of Milinga, Chios. The Turkish fisherman told Greek authorities he had lost his way and did not realise he was fishing in Greek waters. He will be brought before a prosecutor on Tuesday.
Austrian national drowns
A 69-year-old Austrian national drowned last night as he fell into the sea while trying to board a yacht anchored in a port on Kalymnos island, local port officials said today. They said Johann Dipling Mraz drowned when he slipped and fell into the sea while trying to board the Maltese-flag yacht "Aphroodite 2". The Kalymnos port authority was investigating the accident.
Development minister to open Sofia juice plant
Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos will be in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Thursday to inaugurate the new processing plant established by Greek fruit juice firm, Florina SA. Florina has invested six million dollars on converting the former bakery in a suburb of Sofia, bought for $640,000 in 1997, into a processing plant capable of packaging fruit juices, nectar and pulp. The new plant is capable of packaging 10,500 one litre and 250mg units per hour.
Greeks distrustful of state pensions
The majority of Greeks doubt whether state-run pension funds will be able to provide them with an adequate pension in the future and are increasingly turning to private pension schemes to top up their income when they retire, according to a study of the market. The study, presented at a seminar organised by the Union of Greek Insurance Companies, showed that 88 percent of the Greek population believed that pensions were too low. Some 84 percent said they did not know what pension they would be receiving due to rapid changes in the law, and 76 percent said they thought the contributions to state-run pension funds were too high for the return they got. Seventy percent believed that these contributions would be better used if invested in private pension schemes.
No provisions for children's cell phone use
Greece can take no special measures against mobile phones that are being marketed specifically for use by children despite possible risks to their health, Deputy Health Minister Nikolaos Farmakis said on Monday night. Farmakis, responding to a question in Parliament from PASOK MP Evangelos Vlassopoulos, said that experts were right to show concern but that Greece was not able to take any measures that would bring it into conflict with prevailing norms. Vlassopoulos had asked the minister why advertising for specially-designed cellular phones for children's use carried no warning of possible risks involved in cellular phone use. Farmakis noted that the cellular phones available on the Greek market were approved for use in line with Greek laws and that mobile telephony licences made no provisions for special categories of users, such as children.
Greek equities fall sharply
Equity prices ended sharply lower on Tuesday hit by decline in international markets following Wall Street's drop on Monday. Traders said the market also reacted nervously to renewed talk of a ground war in Yugoslavia. A narrow decline in long-term interest rates was another negative factor. The general index ended 1.69 percent lower at 4,111.90 points, sharply off the day's lows of 4,055 points.
WEATHERUnsettled weather will prevail in most parts of Greece today with showers in the mainland in the afternoon. Winds northerly, moderate, turning strong in the southern Aegean sea. Partly cloudy in Athens with showers expected in the afternoon and temperatures ranging between 16-25C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 15-23C.
Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 304.484 Pound sterling 487.290 Japanese yen (100) 245.966 French franc 49.132 German mark 164.780 Italian lira (100) 16.645 Irish Punt 409.213 Belgian franc 7.989 Luxembourg franc 7.989 Finnish mark 54.204 Dutch guilder 146.245 Danish kr. 43.338 Austrian sch. 23.421 Spanish peseta 1.937 Swedish kr. 35.916 Norwegian kr. 39.077 Swiss franc 201.143 Port. Escudo 1.607 Can. dollar 208.578 Aus. dollar 199.903 Cyprus pound 557.901 Euro 322.281(M.P.)
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