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Athens News Agency: News in English, 01-12-16

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] UNICEF holds children's Xmas party in Athens
  • [02] Weather Forecast: Rain, storms and snow on Monday
  • [03] Euro coin starter-packs on sale from Monday
  • [04] Central bank chief wants to see Greek competitiveness rise
  • [05] Debate on budget for 2002 begins in parliament on Monday
  • [06] Thessaloniki international airport shuts due to snow
  • [07] Defence minister to NATO meeting in Brussels on Monday
  • [08] Consulate complains to Belgian police over summit arrest data
  • [09] Main opposition rejects gov't reply to foreign policy criticism
  • [10] Coalition of the Left raps PM over European army
  • [11] Communist Party of Greece welcomes demos at EU summit
  • [12] Government snaps back at opposition over EU army taunt
  • [13] Main opposition blasts government policy over EU army
  • [14] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday
  • [15] Today's Weather: Cloud, rain and snow

  • [01] UNICEF holds children's Xmas party in Athens

    16/12/2001 22:41:57

    UNICEF on Sunday held a Christmas party in Athens for children of different races, creeds and nationalities to help them get to know each other better.

    The annual party was this year dedicated to the fight against child exploitation, a UNICEF programme.

    [02] Weather Forecast: Rain, storms and snow on Monday

    16/12/2001 21:47:22

    Snow will fall on high ground on Monday and in low lying areas of the centre and north with rain and storms around the rest of the country.

    Winds variable, very strong to gale force inland, and gale force at sea. In the north, temperatures will range from -6C to 1C; in the centre from -1C to 7C; and in the rest of the country from 6C to 11C. Heavy rain and storms in Athens, especially in the morning, with snow on the mountains ringing the city. Temperatures between 5C and 7C. Snow in Thessaloniki with temperatures from -2C to 0C.

    [03] Euro coin starter-packs on sale from Monday

    16/12/2001 21:25:49

    Starter-packs of euro coins will be on sale at banks from Monday to allow the public to get used to the new European single currency that will be introduced in physical form on January 1.

    At a cost of 5,000 drachmas, the pack contains the full range of coins worth 14.67 euros.

    Packs of up to 300 euros will also go on sale, destined for businesses.

    Coins in the pack may not be used in transactions until the official launch on January 1, when the euro will circulate in parallel with the drachma until abolition of the national currency at the end of February.

    [04] Central bank chief wants to see Greek competitiveness rise

    16/12/2001 21:11:47

    Greece should step up a competitiveness-improvement drive in orderto improve its standard of living as a eurozone member, the central bank governor said in an interview published on Sunday.

    "Clearly the country has to make more effort if it really wants to improve living standards in a fiercely competitive environment, Lucas Papademos told the Sunday Kathimerini newspaper in an interview.

    "Structural reform is the most essential thing at the monent, and it must aim at a more effective operation of markets, and a rise in competitiveness in the private sector," said the head of the Bank of Greece.

    The object of privatisation was to bring effective operation of the country's productive base, and not to fill state coffers, Papademos noted.

    In addition, an overhaul the government had begun of the tax system had become a major priority. Needed were simplification, competiveness and social equity in the new arrangement, he added.

    [05] Debate on budget for 2002 begins in parliament on Monday

    16/12/2001 20:41:37

    Parliament on Monday begins a five-day debate on the budget for 2002, the country's first in euros before the launch of the single European currency as cash on January 1.

    Party political leaders will address the house on Friday before a vote on the budget late in the evening.

    The growth-oriented budget forecasts a rise in gross domestic product of 3.8 percent in 2002, double the European average despite an adverse global climate.

    The budget also anticipates a surplus for the second straight year, and the public debt is due to maintain its gradual decline.

    The budgets of ministries implementing social policy are to rise, with those involved in public order seeing an increase of 20 percent.

    [06] Thessaloniki international airport shuts due to snow

    16/12/2001 20:10:43

    Thessaloniki's international airport closed on Sunday afternoon due to bad weather with visibility severely hampered by snow.

    Bad weather has hit the north of the country with schools due to remain closed in central and western Macedonia on Monday.

    Thessaloniki itself was enveloped in thick snow with traffic scarcely able to circulate in the city centre due to ice.

    The snow was more than 30 centimetres deep on mountains near the port city.

    [07] Defence minister to NATO meeting in Brussels on Monday

    16/12/2001 19:54:55

    National Defence Minister Yiannos Papantoniou leaves for Brussels on Monday to take part in a NATO meeting, his ministry said in a statement.

    The meeting on December 17-19 is this year's regular autumn session of NATO defence ministers, the statement said on Sunday.

    On Wednesday, Papantoniou leaves Brussels for Turkey to take part in an annual meeting of defence ministers from southeast European countries on December 19-20, the statement said.

    [08] Consulate complains to Belgian police over summit arrest data

    16/12/2001 19:45:37

    BRUSSELS (ANA/M.Spinthourakis) - Greek consular authorities have complained to Belgian police over a failure to receive timely official data on the arrest of Greek nationals who took part in protests against a European Union summit, sources said on Sunday.

    Three Greeks were arrested during protests on Saturday and were likely to be deported on Sunday. The arrests had been confirmed with Belgian authorities after information received from senior officials of the Communist Party of Greece, consular officials said.

    A further five arrests of Greek nationals were reported on Saturday. The protesters, who had taken part in an attempt to occupy a building in the Belgian capital on Thursday, were deported the same day, diplomatic sources said on Saturday.

    Another Greek national was arrested on Saturday for breach of the peace, the sources added.

    The names of the protesters have not been officially released.

    [09] Main opposition rejects gov't reply to foreign policy criticism

    16/12/2001 19:08:14

    The spokesman of the main opposition New Democracy party, Theodoros Roussopoulos, on Sunday rejected a government response to the party's criticism of its foreign policy over the creation of a European rapid reaction force.

    "It is regrettable, but dangerous, that the government should construe a proposal by New Democracy's president for national cooperation and understanding as a weakening factor," Roussopoulos said in a statement.

    "Postponement of the (European army) issue, which the government is celebrating, does not guarantee a solution in favour of our national interests. Shifting problems into the future is certainly no recipe for success," the statement said.

    Earlier in the day, government spokesman Christos Protopappas had said that the prime minister defended Greece's interests at an EU summit at the weekend, and charged that ND leader Costas Karamanlis had made statements that weakened the country's endeavour.

    [10] Coalition of the Left raps PM over European army

    16/12/2001 18:47:44

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress said on Sunday that a rapid reaction force declared operational by the European Union this weekend did not warrant satisfaction the government had expressed.

    Lacking were political controls on the new military force's operations, and its relationship to NATO countries had been left undefined, the party said in a statement.

    It claimed that Prime Minister Costas Simitis was mistakenly satisfied due to postponement of the decision on ties between non-EU members of NATO in Europe and the new army.

    "Postponement of discussion on the subject to the next (EU) presidency does not change the framework of pressure that will continue ahead of an upcoming visit by Simitis to the US," the statement said.

    It charged the prime minister with failing to explain how this had occurred.

    [11] Communist Party of Greece welcomes demos at EU summit

    16/12/2001 18:30:36

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Sunday welcomed protests staged after a European Union summit held near Brussels.

    The party said in a statement that the protests showed opposition to what it called reactionary and repressive decisions taken at the summit.

    The KKE also claimed that the government's positive response to the EU decisions showed a desire to divert public attention away from the real issues.

    In addition, the party said that ratification of a European arrest warrant at the summit was a blow to radical political and trade union activity.

    Furthermore, the EU's creation of a rapid reaction force demonstrated the 15-nation bloc's aggression, the statement claimed.

    Finally, the KKE described the Community's decision to send a multinational force to Afghanistan as a bid to penetrate Eurasia so that the US would not reap all the gains.

    [12] Government snaps back at opposition over EU army taunt

    16/12/2001 17:48:13

    Government spokesman Christos Protopappas said on Sunday that the prime minister had defended Greece's interests following announcement by the European Union at the weekend that its rapid reaction force was operational.

    Earlier in the day, the leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, Costas Karamanlis, had accused the government of leaving Greece's defence exposed.

    "While Costas Simitis successfully defended national interests at the European summit, Mr. Karamanlis continues to make statements that objectively weaken the country's endeavour," Protopappas said in a statement.

    He called Karamanlis' line irresponsible and dangerous.

    [13] Main opposition blasts government policy over EU army

    16/12/2001 17:37:05

    The leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, Costas Karamanlis, on Sunday sharply criticised the government for its foreign policy after the European Union declared at the weekend that a rapid reaction force in the 15-nation bloc was operational.

    "What kind of European army is this, which leaves Greece, a member country of the EU, exposed, and which will be unable, if needed, to operate in the Aegean and Cyprus," Karamanlis told reporters.

    He charged the government with inertia in allowing a dialogue to evolve on the European army in its absence, without expressing its outright opposition.

    Greece was the only member of the EU facing a direct threat to its territorial integrity, Karamanlis noted.

    "The government is celebrating a postponement that will not lead to more favourable conditions for resolution of the problem. This is the most worrying thing, because it proves that it has learnt nothing and is trailing events, while Greece risks failing to safeguard its security," he said.

    "It has been demonstrated that by itself, the government cannot guarantee Greece's interests. It should agree to our proposal right now that a national foreign policy council should be set up," Karamanlis added.

    [14] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday

    16/12/2001 15:04:13

    Indicative tourist buying rates until Monday

    U.S. dollar 374.903

    German mark 172.829

    French franc 051.531

    Pound sterling 543.712

    Irish punt 429.202

    Belgian franc 008.379

    Luxembourg franc 008.379

    Dutch guilder 153.389

    Italian lira (100) 017.457

    Austrian schilling 024.565

    Danish kroner 045.387

    Swedish kroner 035.716

    Finnish mark 056.852

    Spanish peseta 002.032

    Portuguese escudo 001.686

    Japanese yen (100) 293.800

    Swiss franc 229.368

    Norwegian kroner 042.105

    Cyprus pound 587.986

    Canadian dollar 239.055

    Australian dollar 194.292

    [15] Today's Weather: Cloud, rain and snow

    16/12/2001 15:01:44

    Cloud is forecast in all parts of the country on Sunday with snow on high ground, also falling in low lying areas of the north, and in the centre from evening. Rain and storms are expected in the Ionian sea, the western central mainland, the Peloponnese, the Aegean sea, Crete and the Dodecanese islands. Winds variable, moderate to very strong, turning gale force at sea. In the north, temperatures will range from -5C to 4C; in the centre from -1C to 12C; and in the rest of the country from 6C to 17C. Cloud and showers during the day in Athens, turning to storms from late afternoon. Temperatures between 5C and 12C. Snow in Thessaloniki with temperatures from -2C to 2C.


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