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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 00-12-19
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
NEWS IN ENGLISH ERA 5. THE VOICE OF GREECE
19/12/2000 10:46:10 ðì
 2001 budget - EconomyThe debate on the 2001 budget started in Parliament yesterday.
In her speech, Pasok's spokesperson Rodoula Zisi referred to the historical character of the state budget, stressing that it was the first one in Euro and the last one in drachmas.
Referring to the budget, Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas underlined that it created the right conditions for achieving a high development rate. In tandem, he pointed out that the surplus in the budget supported the government's efforts for helping the low incomes. However, despite the optimistic prospects of the Greek economy for the next four years, unemployment remains one of the biggest problems.
According to Finance minister unemployment will have decreased substancially, a view not shared by the General Confederation of Greek Workers.
New Democracy party speaker Theodoros Kassimis said the the 2001 budget was lacking social sensitivity and spoke of an unssen public debt which was inflating dangerously. The Greek Communist party speaker Agelos Tzekis described the budget as untipopular and pro-monopolistic, while Coalition of the Left Wing and Progress Party speaker Panayiotis Alafanzanis spoke of disputable credibility.
 2001-2004 stability pactThe 2001-2004 stability pact was presented by the National Economy minister Yannos Papantoniou yesterday.
The pact provides for a 5% growth rate, a de-escalation of inflation to 2,3%, and a reduction of the public debt in combination with a stabilization of the economy.
The Monetary Policy committee will meet at noon to discuss about the last decrease of interest rates by one point.
 Drop in fuel pricesA new drop in fuel prices will be implemented as of midnight tomorrow.
Specifically, heating oil will be sold 10 drachmas cheaper per litre, diesel oil by 8 drachmas and petrol by 3 drachmas.
 Location of Press villages for 2004 Olympics decided uponThe preparations for the 2004 Olympics were examined yesterday morning by the inte-rministerial committee under the Chairmanship of Prime minister Kostas Simitis.
The Prime minister stressed that 2001 would be a very important year for the 2004 preparations, since all planned projects would become visible.
The location of the 4 Press villages , that will be funded by the public sector and supervised by the ministry of Public Works, was decided upon at the meeting.
Specifically, it will be areas round OAKA in Pallini, OTE's estate, Ayios Andreas and in Pyrgos, Ayioi Anargyroi.
 Avramopoulos causes turmoil in New Democracy partyDimitris Avramopoulos' decision to set up a new party has caused turmoil within the New Democracy.
An indication is that three members of the major opposition party yesterday withdrew from New Democracy in order to follow Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos' plans, while deputy Dora Bakoyanni called on the party's leader Costas Karamanlis to resume an initiative to boost the centre-right wing.
Asked to comment on Mr. Avramopoulos' move, the Speaker of the Parliament Apostolos Kaklamanis stated that New Democracy party had managed to stand the pressure in similar cases. Mr. Kaklamanis was referring to Mr. Stephanopoulos, Samaras and Manos.
 Papandreou on a tour to Nepal, India and BangaladeshForeign minister Yiorgos Papandreou met yesterday with Nepal's Prime minister Giriyia Prasad Koirala at the capital of Katmandou.
Mr. Papandreou was also received by King Bir Bikram Sach Dev. The Greek Foreign minister also inaugurated and exhibition of Greek photography in Katmandou.
Mr. Papandreou's three-day official visit to Nepal is the first visit of a Greek Foreign minister to this country and lies within the framework of his tour to Nepal, India and Bangaladesh.
The Foreign minister briefed the Nepalese Prime minister on the Greek positions regarding Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and the Balkans.
 Greek-Turkish relations - Cyprus issueA delegation of the Greek Foreign ministry headed by the Secretary General on Foreign Affairs Ilias Plaskovitis is in Attalia Turkey within the framework of cooperation of the Greek and Turkish Foreign ministries for the better preparation of Turkey's course to the European Union.
The aim of the visit is to create a climate of trust between the two ministries. In the meantime, the Turkish-Cypriot side continues its efforts to create obstacles in the dialogue on the Cyprus issue, as a few months after Strovilia, the Turkish occupation troops have constructed new fortification works in the village of Pyla, whose destruction has been asked for by the UN.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas described the incident as a negative development and called on the UN to act more effectively in similar situations.
In the meantime, the United States has reiterated its support to the negotiations procedure for the solution of the Cyprus issue under the auspicews of the United Nations and called on the Turkish-Cypriot representative Rauf Denktash to participate in the sixth round of Cyprus proximity talks scheduled to take place in Geneva in January.
State Department representative Philip Riker stressed that the Turkish-Cypriots and the Turkey's interests werer better served with the continuation of the talks.
 Hunger strikes and unrest in Turkish prisonsIn an attempt to end the two-month hunger strike of political prisoners in Turkish prisons, soldiers intruded to the prisons and used violence.
Shots can be heard outside Bairam Passa prison in Constaninople according to the the Turkish privately owned TV network NTV.
Additionally, it has been reported that fires broke out in two other prisons. Until now only two women prisoners have been hospitalized in Ankara.
About 200 prisoners are about to die after a 61-day strike, while it should be noted that 12 prisoners lost their life after a hunger strike in 1996.
The prisoners are refusing to be transferred to the new prisons, which have been constructed by the Justice ministry, since the cells can host up to three prisoners a development which would make prisoners more vulnerable to torture.