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Macedonian Press Agency: Brief News in English, 98-02-11
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
BRIEF GREEK NEWS BULLETIN BY THE MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY
Thessaloniki, February 11, 1998
NEWS IN DETAIL
 STATE TO REVITALIZE PUBLIC UTILITIES: OLYMPIC AIRWAYS, POST OFFICE
Athens, February 11 (MPA)Following yesterday’s meeting chaired by Premier Kostas Simitis and attended by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Transport and Communications Minister Tasos Mantelis and Labor and Welfare Minister Miltiades Papaioannou, the government announced that it will proceed to taking specific steps on the revitalization of public enterprises and corporations (DEKO) during this month and March, after receiving the relevant business plans from their administrations.
“We have agreed on the time schedule," Mr. Papantoniou said, adding that "the revitalization program will be comprehensive, spherical and consistent with what we have said in Parliament".
Mr. Papantoniou added that the government’s decisions will be the subject of social dialogue, while it would also be holding talks with DEKO administrations and workers.
 OLYMPIC AIRWAYS CAUGHT IN THE EYE OF STATE’S REVITALIZATION “STORM”
Athens, February 11 (MPA)The Minister of Transportation and Communications Tasos Mantelis has stressed the government's determination to take measures to enable the national carrier, Olympic Airways, survive strong international competition.
Following yesterday’s meeting chaired by Premier Kostas Simitis and attended by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Labor and Welfare Minister Miltiades Papaioannou, Mr. Mantelis said there was a "category of personnel" at OA which was "trying to impose the view" that seasonal workers should be employed, noting that this was prohibited by law.
"The government cannot give in to irrational and unlawful decisions," he said.
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Simitis had instructed the competent ministers to unswervingly continue to implement the program for the revitalization of loss-making DEKO.
Mr. Reppas referred to Olympic Airways as "the champion of negative performance", adding that the plan for its revitalization had not borne results. He said that the government was drafting a business plan in direct consultations with trade union representatives of the national airline.
Describing demands to grant permanent status to seasonal workers at OA as "irrational and unlawful", Mr. Reppas ruled out the possibility of the company being shut down or sold.
"Olympic Airways will operate normally and at the same time its revitalization will proceed," he stressed.
 GREEK AGRICULTURE MINISTER MEETS WITH EU’S FRANZ FISCHLER
Brussels, February 11 (MPA)Greece’s Minister of Agriculture Stephanos Tzoumakas met yesterday with the European Union’s Commissioner Franz Fischler with whom he held talks concerning the problems in Greece's agriculture sector, especially for cotton, tobacco, olive oil and rice producers.
The Agriculture Minister expressed his satisfaction over the talks, although diplomatic sources state that difernce in opinions remains between Greece and the Commission on issues concerning agricultural policy, such as subsidies for cotton producers and their products’ trade.
Mr. Tzoumakas stated that the Commission had accepted Greek demands that subsidies for cotton be submitted directly to producers, and that in case of over-targeting of maximum quotas penalties would be shared out to both the responsible producers and areas.
Regarding olive oil, Mr. Tzoumakas asked for the Commission’s approval for the creation of reserves by the few organizations of producers which have the right, and which due to their limited facilities should be able to assign the task to sub-contractors.
Mr. Fischler committed himself to submitting the request to the legal service of the Commission.
Mr. Tzoumakas also set out Greek positions on tobacco, which were contrary to the Commission's, on the reduction of supports for varieties of poor quality tobacco, and distinctions between bad and good varieties, which are threatening Greek tobacco-producing areas.
 GREEK FARMERS TO MEET WITH AGRICULTURE MINISTER TOMORROW
Athens, February 11 (MPA)The country’s protesting farmers are to meet tomorrow with a government delegation headed by Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas and including Finance Undersecretary George Drys, agriculture undersecretaries Dimitris Sotirlis and Vassilis Geranidis, and the governor of the Agricultural Bank of Greece, Petros Lambrou.
The farmers of central Greece have said they will intensify blockades this week and will continue their protest until their demands are met for state subsidies and cheaper petrol for agricultural use. Local farmers however, have said that they are opposed to the meeting and have asked that Agriculture Ministry officials travel to Thessaloniki in order to embark on negotiations.
Meanwhile, the local producers are to block off the national highway today at Malgara.
 PARLIAMENT TURNS DOWN PROPOSAL ON REVIEW COMMITTEE FOR “YAK 42”
Athens, February 11 (MPA)In a majority vote, the Greek Parliament turned down a proposal submitted last evening by the main opposition on the formation of a review committee which would examine the causes of last December’s crash of a Ukrainian airplane which fell on the Pieria mountain range.
While two minor opposition parties (Communist Party of Greece and Coalition of Left and Progress) supported the proposal, the Democratic Social Movement Party voted against. Leader of main opposition Kostas Karamanlis stated that the delay in the installation of a radar at Thessaloniki’s “Macedonia” airport was “criminal”, but Transportation Minister Tasos Mantelis lashed against Mr. Karamanlis and accused him of national irresponsibility.
 IMPORTED -SUSPECT- BLOOD WAS CONFISCATED MORE THAN A MONTH AGO
Athens, February 11 (MPA)One day after the Minister of Health Kostas Gitonas ordered the Greek Pharmaceutical Organization (EOF to conduct an urgent investigation on the allegations made by a Swiss attorney, according to whom tainted blood had been imported to Greece, the Organization announced yesterday that it confiscated more than a month ago a large number of imported blood by-products which indeed may be tainted.
The President of EOF G. Kavadias said that two pharmaceutical products imported from Germany were pulled off the shelves of two pharmacies in the Athens area in order to be tested for viruses. The samples tested to date did not contain infectious diseases but the testing at the capital’s "Laiko Hospital" will continue, Mr. Kavadias said.
The woman lawyer revealed that the large law firm, for which she was working, was hiding behind a ring responsible for the imports of tainted blood from eastern European countries and Russia.
According to her report, the illegal trade, which begun in 1996, used blood of cancer patients and people with a weak immune system.
Mr. Kavadias stated that the case has already been assigned to a public prosecutor, since these products were promoted in public hospitals in Athens and Patras by university doctors without the quality seal of EOF.
He also said that at least two doctors are allegedly involved in prescribing the blood by-products, and it is probable that they received large commissions for promoting the products. The EOF president stressed that all products with the EOF seal of approval may be used without fear by all patients.
 GREEK AMBASSADOR EYEWITNESSED ATTEMPT AGAINST SHEVARDNADZE
Tbilisi, February 11 (MPA)The Greek Ambassador at Tbilisi Mr. Kriekoukis was an eyewitness at Monday night’s assassination attempt against Georgian President Edvard Shevardnadze.
Speaking to the Macedonian Press Agency, Mr. Kriekoukis stated that the attempt took place outside the hotel where he was staying at temporarily.
He stated that the ambush had been set up directly across the street from the hotel. Attackers ambushed Shevardnadze's motorcade with anti-tank grenades and automatic weapons. Two of the president's bodyguards are believed to have been killed in the attack while another four traveling in the motorcade are reported to be in serious condition.
The Greek diplomat relayed to President Shevardnadze the Greek President’s Kostis Stephanopoulos congratulatory message for his survival.
 NEW ACTION PLANS DRAWN BY COUNCIL OF GREEKS ABROAD
Thessaloniki, February 11 (MPA)In an effort to connect expatriate Greeks with the homeland, the Foreign Ministry, in cooperation with the Council of Greeks Abroad (SAE) is embarking on a series of new action plans, among them the organization of a world fund collection in May to enable Greek expatriates to contribute with funds towards the building of Greek medical centers in regions of the former Soviet Union where Greeks live.
Moreover, the World Assembly of Hellenism will be held in Greece next year with the participation of prominent Greeks and philhellenes, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou stated.
Mr. Papandreou said four preparatory conferences will be held this year in order to facilitate contact between Greeks from all over the world. One of the main aims of these conferences will be to brief participants on the initiative being promoted to have the concept of an Olympic truce accepted internationally.
 STATE TO LURE DRIVERS INTO PULLING THEIR CLUNKERS OFF THE STREETS
Athens, February 11 (MPA)The Minister of Public Works Kostas Laliotis plans to introduce incentives for car owners to withdraw their old vehicles from the market in order to help cut pollution by the year 2004 when Athens will host the Olympic Games.
"There must be attractive incentives so that cars over 15 years old on average can gradually be withdrawn... and replaced by new cars with new technology," Mr. Laliotis stated.
He added that the import of cars up to five years old should be allowed so that Greece would not become a graveyard for old vehicles. He also pointed out that cars over 15 years old accounted for up to 40 percent of atmospheric pollution.
 PRESIDENT OF ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE DEPARTS FOR CHICAGO
Athens, February 11 (MPA)The President of the Athens Stock Exchange Manolis Xanthakis departed for Chicago, heading a delegation of ASE and Capital Market Committee members, for contacts with officials of the local Stock Exchange for Merchandise. The meeting is held in the framework of obtaining better in formation for the Greek capital market.
 EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT JACQUES SANTER TO VISIT GREECE IN APRIL
Brussels, February 11 (MPA)The President of the European Commission Jacques Santer is to conduct an official visit to Greece between April 9-13.
During his stay in Athens, Mr. Santer will meet with the state and political leadership of the country and will also be the keynote speaker at a banquet at an international conference on "Greeting a new Business Age" being organized in Athens by “The Economist” magazine on April 9.
Mr. Santer will also visit the island of Crete, where he will meet with representatives of local authorities and producers. It will be Mr. Santer's third official visit to Greece since assuming the top seat of the Commission in January 1995.
 GREECE BEATS STEADILY AT THE HEART OF BRUSSELS, THROUGH “ATTICO”
Thessaloniki, February 11 (MPA)Sequestered away at the very heart of the European Union is a sign that reads “Attico”, surely warming the hearts of the 10,000 Greeks living in Brussels. It features the emblem of the Greek goddess Athena, the owl, and designates the only recognized Greek educational organization in the Belgian capital.
In the rooms of “Attico” many Greek students, most of whom are second- and third-generation offspring who have never visited Greece, are given insight on the motherland and are properly taught the familiar tongue of their parents and grandparents by trained staff.
“Each day we realize that the children of Greeks working at NATO or the European Union have a place in their heart for Greece,” stated the director of “Attico” Alexandros Katostaras to the Macedonian Press Agency.
Aiming at complimenting the education of Greeks living in Belgium the school also serves as a tutorial center for the students of the two Greek schools currently operating in Brussels. It also provides classes in both English and French, as well as computer training, in order to better enable these students to assimilate in the new culture.
This private school, which operates with the permission of the “Region de Bruxelles Capitale”, also features Greek-language classes at various levels for foreigners, as well as sessions tailored after needs for specific terminology.
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