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Macedonian Press Agency: Brief News in English, 98-02-17
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 17, 1998
NEWS IN DETAIL
 RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER PRIMAKOV IN THESSALONIKI TODAY
Thessaloniki, February 17 (MPA)Russia’s Foreign Minster Gevgeni Primakov is to visit the monastic community of Mount Athos today, accompanied by his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos.
The two men will visit the monasteries of Vatopedi and Panteleimon. The two officials will return to Thessaloniki in the evening, where Mr. Primakov will be received by the Minister of Macedonia-Thrace Philippos Petsalnikos.
 GREECE AND EGYPT WILL HOLD JOINT MILITARY EXERCISES IN NEAR FUTURE
Cairo, February 17 (MPA)Greece’s National Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos, currently on a three-day official visit to Egypt, held talks with his Egyptian counterpart Hussein Tadawi in Cairo yesterday where the two men agreed on joint naval and air force exercises to take place in the next few months between the two countries.
The talks between Mgrs. Tsochatzopoulos and Tadawi focused on bilateral relations and developments in the wider region.
The Greek Defense Minister said that the holding of joint aeronautical exercises between Greece and Egypt "constitutes a reply to all who think that they can exploit instability in the region for their own expediencies."
The two officials also exchanged views on a possible military intervention by the United States in Iraq and they agreed that such a development will create serious problems since it will cause general instability in Arab countries with unforeseen consequences.
Mr. Tsochatzopoulos will be received by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak today and also have talks with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Amir Mousa.
Tomorrow he is to meet representatives of Egypt's ethnic Greek community, as well as the Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Petros.
 NATIONAL ECONOMY AND FINANCE MINSTER ON MAASTRICHT CRITERIA
Brussels, February 17 (MPA)Greece’s National Economy and Finance Minster Yiannos Papantoniou, addressing the European Union's Council of Economic and Monetary Affairs meeting in Brussels yesterday, stated that the country’s economy will be in a position to fulfil fiscal criteria set by the Maastricht Treaty, that is, to have a budget deficit of less than 3 per cent of GDP in 1998.
In his address, Mr. Papantoniou outlined the basic principles of Greek economic policy which the government is applying consistently, emphasising structural measures taken in the direction of restructuring public enterprises and organisations, state -run banks, the insurance system, etc.
Moreover, he stated that in 1998 the permanent downward trend of the Greek public debt will be consolidated to enable the prospect of the drachma's accession to European Monetary Union (EMU) to become clearer since, as he said, it is the common position of the "15 " that all countries will be handled on the basis of the same criteria regardless of whether they will accede to the EMU from the beginning or at a later stage.
 NATIONAL ECONOMY & FINANCE MINISTER MEETS WITH MANAGERS OF DEKOS
Athens, February 17 (MPA)The Minister of National Economy and Finance Yiannos Papantoniou is to illustrate the government programme to revitalise the public utilities (DEKOS) companies, during his meeting with the managers of DEKOS to be held today.
The revitalisation plan is to start off with Olympic Airways, whose cancellation of flights is to continue today as well.
 ALBANIA’S FORMER PRESIDENT ALIA UNDERGOES OPEN-HEART SURGERY
Thessaloniki, February 17 (MPA)Albania’s former president Ramiz Alia, the last communist leader of his country, is currently undergoing undergo open-heart surgery at Thessaloniki’s George Papanikolaou hospital.
Mr. Alia, 73 years old, is being operated on by the well- known Greek heart surgeon Panayotis Spyrou, who has performed similar operations on several Greek politicians.
The Albanian politician was granted a medical visa by the Greek Consulate in Tirana.
Dr. Spyrou, who saw Mr. Alia a few days ago in Tirana, said that "because of the seriousness of his condition, he should be operated on in Thessaloniki".
 GREEK FARMERS CALL OFF STRIKE, LIFT ROADBLOCKS
Larissa, February 17 (MPA)The Pan-Thessaly farmers’ co-ordinating committee have decided to call off their mobilizations, until a later date, after the meeting they held this morning at Tempi.
Meanwhile tomorrow, the secretary-general of Greece’s Communist Party Aleka Paparega is to grant a press interview in Athens wherein she will address the issues faced by the farmers.
 GREEK FARMERS TO DECIDE TODAY ON COURSE OF FURTHER MOBILIZATIONS
Thessaloniki, February 17 (MPA)Transportation at Greece’s national highway may or may not return to normal as of this afternoon, when the farmers of central Greece are to decide on the course of their mobilisations.
Transportation at Greece’s national highway is obstructed at the Tempi junction as the protesting farmers have opened access to only one lane for the moving vehicles.
Meanwhile, the government stated yesterday that it will not cave in to blackmail.
Complete archives of the Macedonian Press Agency bulletins are available on the MPA Home Page at http://www.mpa.gr/ and on the U.S. mirror at http://www.hri.org/MPA/