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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 01-12-04
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 NEWS IN ENGLISH THE VOICE OF GREECE4/12/2001 11:18:00 рм
Israel retaliates New Democracy party first according to opinion poll Disagreement on electoral legislation Changes on women s pension policy Klerides-Denktash meeting today in the presence of UN special envoy Adverse weather conditions as of Friday The Greek government insists on Nice summit commitments over Euro-force Six bilateral agreements to be signed by Simitis and Putin 0.53% drop in the ASE yesterday
 Israel retaliatesIsraeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has won his cabinet's backing to declare the Palestinian Authority an "entity that supports terror".
The cabinet 's decision, which followed a stormy debate, came as Israeli troops and bulldozers moved into Gaza airport on Monday night and began ripping up its runway as part of a wave of retaliation.
Israeli soldiers were also reported to have entered several Palestinian-ruled areas in the West Bank, including the town of Ramallah, where they were poised just 500 metres from Mr Arafat s compound there. And in the West Bank town of Nablus, a member of Fatah was reportedly shot dead by Israeli gunfire.
The latest developments follow Monday's assault by Israeli helicopter gunships that destroyed two of Mr Arafat's helicopters in Gaza City, injuring up to 10 people.
Israeli F-16 warplanes were also in action on Monday, attacking buildings in the West Bank town of Jenin. Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign minister Simon Perez stated that the United States and Europe could play an important role in the restoration of peace in the Middle East.
The Palestinian authorities have called on the United Nations to intervene and stop the Israeli attacks, accusing Mr. Ariel Sharon of having launched a "total war" against the Palestinians.
From its side, the United States stated that Israel has the right to defend itself.
 New Democracy party first according to opinion pollAccording to an opinion poll conducted by "Metron Analysis", the results of which were anounced by Pasok Secretary Costas Laliotis, New Democracy party is favoured by the Greek people with 37.5%, while Pasok ruling party comes second with 32.2%.
Moreover, Costas Simitis is ahead of Costas Karamanlis by 6 points and is considered the most suitable Prime Minister. Commenting on the results, Mr. Costas Laliotis described them as a sign of improvement of Pasoks position, leaving behind it a negative climate.
In reply, New Democracy party spokesman Theodoros Rousopoulos stated that Mr. Laliotis finds resort to every means because he is in panic.
 Disagreement on electoral legislationMinister of Interior Costas Scandalides and New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis disagreed on the change of electoral legislation, while Mr. Scandalides proposed for a new dialogue to take place.
In reply, New Democracy spokesman Theodoros Rousopoulos stated that New Democracy party rejects any dialogue on the change of the electoral legislation.
 Changes on women s pension policyMinister of Social Security Rovertos Spyropoulos has anounced the limiting of favourable regulations for women pension policy, pointing out that the social and employment inequalities of the past that were required for the protection of women do not exist anymore.
 Klerides-Denktash meeting today in the presence of UN special envoyThe President of the Cyprus Republic Glafkos Klerides and Turkish-Cypriot representative Rauf Denktash are meeting today in the presence of the United Nations special envoy Alvaro De Soto.
Greek Cypriot President Glafkos Klerides accepted an invitation from the leader of the breakaway Turkish part of the island, Rauf Denktash, to hold "heart to heart" talks, on condition that the UN special advisor on Cyprus was also present.
It should be noted that there has been increased pressure to resolve the dispute over the island' s sovereignty as the deadline for Cyprus to join the European Union draws near.
Turkey has threatened to invade the island if it becomes an EU member, while Greece has warned that it would thwart the EU's enlargement ambitions if Cyprus was not accepted in the first wave of expansion, due in 2004. The island has been divided since Turkey's invasion in 1974.
 Adverse weather conditions as of FridayAlthough nothern winds will abate as of the afternoon, the weather is expected to deteriorate as of Friday, with gale force winds and low temperatures. In the meantime, all departures of ships from the ports of Pireaus and Rafina have been cancelled.
 The Greek government insists on Nice summit commitments over Euro-forceThe Greek government emphasised on Monday that its standing demand remains for Nice summit commitments and decisions to be duly observed regarding the ever-looming prospect of an Euro-force.
The comments follow a weekend visit to Athens by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt -whose country holds the EU rotating presidency - and his talks with Greek PM Costas Simitis on the complex issue.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas responded to a question at his daily press briefing regarding recent statements by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, and following the latter 's talks with US and British officials in Ankara.
According to wire reports, Ecevit said on Sunday that most of Turkey 's rightful expectations had been met after British and US diplomats negotiated with the Turks the previous week.
On his part, Protopapas said it wasn' t only important what the United States and Turkey agreed to with an European member, but what decisions the entire EU would take.
On Saturday, the Belgian Premier denied claims that Turkey had been assured of the Aegean Sea and Cyprus exclusion from any future European Union force s operational responsibility.
 Six bilateral agreements to be signed by Simitis and PutinSix bilateral agreements will be signed by Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will be on a three-day visit to Athens on Thursday.
The agreements will be on fuel and energy, air transportation, the establishment of cultural centers as well as, the cooperation between the Justice Ministries of the two countries, police cooperation and shipping sector cooperation.
The two leaders will have consultations on a wide spectrum of issues. They will discuss the developments concerning the NATO-Russia and the EU-Russia cooperation as well as, the developments in the Balkan region and southeastern Mediterranean with an emphasis on the Cyprus problem, the Greek-Turkish relations, the situation in the Middle East.
They will also discuss the developments in the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus and the international developments in relation with terrorism and Afghanistan.
 0.53% drop in the ASE yesterdaySmall losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday.
The general share price index dropped to 0.53% at 2.679,68 points, while the volume of transactions was at 128.02 million Euro or 43.62 billion drachmas.
Of the stocks traded yesterday, only 54 recorded gains and 290 had losses, while the value of 22 stocks remained unchanged.