Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-01-17
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 17/01/1999 (ANA)
- Parliament rejects censure motion
- Premier calls for schools to reopen
- Students, teachers resist
- Finnish prime minister due in Athens
- Edi Rama warns of prejudice
- Tzoganis visits Georgia
- OTE reduces phone card price
- Greenpeace hails PVC toy ban
- U.S. Embassy closed on Monday
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Parliament rejects censure motion
Parliament early on Sunday dismissed a vote of no confidence in Education
Minister Gerasimos Arsenis after a three-day debate by a margin of 36
A total of 163 MPs voted down the censure motion (161 MPs from ruling party
PASOK and two independent deputies, Vassilis Kontoyiannopoulos and
Stephanos Manos), compared to 127 MPs who voted to support the motion (95
ND MPS, 10 Communist Party of Greece, eight each from Coalition of the Left
and Progress and Democratic Social Movement and six independent MPs).
Speaking after the vote, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said nothing could
divert the course of the government towards fulfilling its mandate and that
in 2000 "we will win the next elections".
"We are open to any improvements considered necessary in the course of
implementing the education reform," he said in his closing speech to the
assembly, before the vote.
New Democracy submitted the motion of no confidence late last week, citing
the "explosive dimensions" the near two-month student sit-ins and road
blocks were taking.
Students have been objecting to sweeping reforms to the structure and
grading of secondary education and to entry to tertiary education.
Premier calls for schools to reopen
Closing the parliamentary debate on a no-confidence motion against his
education minister, which the house voted down, Prime Minister Costas
Simitis said the education ministry's proposed sector reforms were "an
integrated and mature proposal" but said that the government was "not
dogmatic" and had already accepted some adjustments.
However, Simitis said, for there to be any sort of productive dialogue, the
schools must open. Opposition leader Costas Karamanlis charged the
government with "cowardice" but called on high school students to show
"greater responsibility than the government" and return to classes on
Students, teachers resist
Secondary school teachers' federation OLME on Saturday rejected a call from
Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis earlier for dialogue with OLME
President Nikos Tsoulias saying Arsenis's invitation was "a tactical move
calculated to complicate the issue."
Student protest committees also reiterated their determination to end
occupations and boycotts only if the law was repealed and called for
another rally to be held in Athens on Tuesday afternoon at Kanigos square
and on Thursday morning at the Propylae. Students said more than 800
schools around the country were under occupation, although the figure was
disputed by local government authorities, which place the number of schools
currently closed at some 500.
Finnish prime minister due in Athens
Finland's Prime Minister, Paavo Lipponen, arrives in Athens on Sunday
evening for a two-day visit expected to focus on European Union issues,
developments in the Balkan and eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus and the course
of Turkey's relations with the EU.
Lipponen meets on Monday morning with Parliament President Apostolos
Kaklamanis and will be received by President of the Republic Costis
Stephanopoulos at midday.
He will meet Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis at 12.30 and both men will
speak to the press after the meeting.
In the evening, he is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Theodoros
In an interview with the ANA released on Friday, Lipponen said he believed
Helsinki and Athens had common interests to defend at the European Union,
stemming from their similar geopolitical positions.
Both countries are crucial to the creation of a European gas network, he
added, with Greece taking a leading role in utilising energy resources of
the Caucasus region and Finland a similar role with Russian energy
Finland assumes the rotating EU presidency in the second half of 1999.
Edi Rama warns of prejudice
Albanian Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Edi Rama said on Saturday that
there was prejudice in western Europe against the peoples of the Balkans
which perpetuated the negative tradition of the Iron Curtain.
"Attempts in the past for absolute justice resulted in the disappearance of
liberty and eventually of justice itself," Rama said, addressing an Athens
meeting of 50 young politicians up to 35 years of age from countries in SE
The two-day meeting which began on Friday aimed to help promote a regional
development plan for the countries of SE Europe.
Tzoganis visits Georgia
Greece's Chief of the National Defence General Staff Athanasios Tzoganis
begins a visit to Georgia on Sunday for talks on issues of mutual interest
on the invitation of his Georgian counterpart.
Tzoganis will be received by the Georgian defence and foreign ministers as
well as by religious leaders and will visit military installations in the
He returns to Athens on January 19.
OTE reduces phone card price
Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) has announced a drop in the
price of telephone cards, to apply from March 1, 1999.
The price of the 100-unit phone card will drop to 1,000 drachmas from 1,700
drachmas, while the 500 and 1,000-unit cards will be reduced to 4,200 and 8,
200 drachmas, respectively, from 7,000 and 11,500 drachmas.
Greenpeace hails PVC toy ban
The environmental advocacy group Greenpeace on Friday welcomed a government
decision to ban the sale of toys made from PVC.
The decision went into force as of Friday and was taken because the toxic
pthalic compounds used in PVC products are believed to pose a serious
U.S. Embassy closed on Monday
The U.S. Embassy in Athens, the Information Resource Centre (U.S. Library)
and all U.S. government offices operating in Greece will remain shut on
Monday, a national holiday in the U.S. marking the birthday of civil rights
leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Fair weather throughout Greece on Sunday with scattered clouds on the east.
Winds in the west of the country will be weak, on the east northerly medium
to strong and early morning in the Aegean very strong. Fair weather in
Athens where temperatures will range from 6 to 16C. Similar weather in
Thessaloniki with temperatures between 0 and 12C.
Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 276.490
Pound sterling 458.562 Japanese yen (100) 245.550
French franc 49.165 German mark 164.891
Italian lira (100) 16.656 Irish Punt 409.490
Belgian franc 7.995 Finnish mark 54.240
Dutch guilder 146.344 Danish kr. 43.319
Austrian sch. 23.437 Spanish peseta 1.938
Swedish kr. 35.200 Norwegian kr. 36.994
Swiss franc 203.087 Port. Escudo 1.609
Aus. dollar 174.404 Can. dollar 179.949
Cyprus pound 553.060