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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-01-24

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 24/01/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Talks to continue on resolving schools rift
  • Athens calls for cooperation on Kosovo crisis
  • Government eager for more US investments
  • Labour minister backs Intracom's 35-hr week
  • US ambassador supports reforestation plan
  • Two policemen stabbed by unidentified man
  • Deputy defence minister denies missiles press report
  • Cypriot defence minister to visit Athens
  • Greek MPs to attend Council of Europe meeting
  • European Central Bank's Duisenberg has praise for Greece
  • Stocks end the week moderately lower
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Talks to continue on resolving schools rift

Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis received pupils' representatives on Saturday in an effort to defuse an ongoing crisis in the education sector, which began with the implementation of a new law to restructure secondary education.

The meeting began early in the day and lasted until late afternoon. Three out of 55 representatives walked out of the meeting in protest.

The minister, who said the talks were constructive, is expected to meet more schoolchildren's representatives on Monday.

Athens calls for cooperation on Kosovo crisis

Greece on Friday called on Yugoslavia to coooperate with the international community so agreements that Belgrade has signed regarding the Kosovo problem may be implemented.

At the same time, Athens expressed its opposition to any military solution to the problem.

Addressing reporters after a Cabinet meeting, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that although the circumstances surrounding the killing of 45 ethnic Albanians in and around the village of Racak in Kosovo had not been fully clarified, responsibil ity lay with "those who contribute to the continuation of violence in the region."

Mr. Reppas said Prime Minister Costas Simitis referred to the Kosovo problem at yesterday's Cabinet meeting and had described the massacre as "a very unfavourable development".

The spokesman underlined that human rights were not a domestic issue for each separate country, but rather were of interest to the entire international community.

"For this reason, Greece calls on Belgrade to take all necessary measures to arrest those responsible (for the killings) and to cooperate with the international community so that agreements which Belgrade has signed may be implemented with consistency," he said.

Mr. Reppas further said that Greece was opposed to any return of Yugoslav troops to the area from which they withdrew on the basis of an agreement on Oct. 25, 1998.

He also called on Belgrade to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.

While stating that Greece, as a member-state, will take part in EU and NATO activities, the Greek spokesman said Athens was opposed to proposals for the use of military force and initiatives for military intervention on land.

Any intervention which does take place, he added, must have the backing of the United Nations Security Council.

Government eager for more US investments

Greece would welcome more investments by US companies, who say that red tape and a rigid labour market are still a deterrent, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou told a news conference in Washington late on Friday.

US investments in Greece total 1.2 billion dollars, which is much too low, Papandreou said after talks with senior US government officials.

At the same time, Athens should work harder to entice Greek-American capital into the country, she added.

According the minister, several US companies have shown interest in Greek natural gas and renewable energy projects.

Papandreou also said she had rejected US criticism of Greece for seeking business links with Iran, saying the policy was pursued throughout the European Union.

The EU believed that developing trade ties with Tehran was the best way to aid reform within Iran, and a growing number of US companies agreed, she said.

Papandreou, whose ministry is to hold a politics and economy conference in the US in November, left for New York on Friday, the second port of call in her seven-day visit to the US.

On Monday, she is due to address the Foreign Policy Association.

She will then leave for Texas for talks with Governor George Bush and corporate exectives in the energy sector.

Labour minister backs Intracom's 35-hr week

Labour Minister Miltiades Papaioannou on Saturday welcomed a decision by Intracom, an information technology and telecoms manufacturer, to launch a 35-hour working week on full pay.

"It is very positive that one of the biggest Greek firms is to apply the 35- hour week with no pay cuts at a time when talks are starting on the issue with social groups. I hope other firms move in the same direction," said Papaioannou in reply to a reporter's question.

Intracom's chairman, Socrates Kokkalis, said on Friday that the reduction in working hours would come into effect in the first half of the year for the firm's 1,807 employees.

The Federation of Greek Industry has not backed the 35-hour week being debated in the European Union, and consultations so far have implied a pay cut if the measure were to be introduced.

Opponents of the move have argued that the competitiveness of domestic firms would drop against their rivals abroad.

Intracom is a blue chip on the Athens bourse whose customers include NATO, the EU and the Greek armed forces.

The government has so far refused to legislate a 35-hour working week, but has said it would welcome initiatives by individual companies.

US ambassador supports reforestation plan

United States ambassador to Athens Nicolas Burns and Agriculture Deputy Minister Costas Vrettos on Saturday launched the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association's (AHEPA) reforestation initiative in Greece.

AHEPA representatives, main opposition New Democracy deputy Fani Pali- Petralia and local elected officials participated in this the first of a series of tree-planting efforts on the 15 hectar AHEPA owned land at Sounion, eastern Attica.

Mr. Burns said that Greece is the most beautiful country in Europe, and for this reason the Greek people and the government should protect nature, while he added that he became very sad over last summer's forest-fires and for that reason he supported the AHEPA initiative.

Mr. Vrettos said thanked the AHEPA representatives and Mr. Burns and said that the Greek government will expend any and all efforts for the reforestation of forests destroyed by fire.

Two policemen stabbed by unidentified man

Police said an unidentified man stabbed two police officers in Thessaloniki early Sunday, when they attempted to arrest him for vandalising cars.

Off duty police officer Efthymios Mekes was stabbed in the chest by a young man when he tried to stop him from breaking the lights and windshields on parked cars, while his fellow officer Stephanos Boutas, who rushed to his assistance, was stabbed in the abdomen.

The culprit managed to escape in the dark.

Deputy defence minister denies missiles press report

National Defence Deputy Minister Dimitris Apostolakis on Friday denied a report in the Greek-American community newspaper "Proini" claiming that negotiations were under way for the sale of the S-300 missiles to Egypt.

He was replying in Parliament to a question tabled by ruling PASOK deputy Lefteris Veryvakis. Apostolakis said that when the S-300 and recently ordered US-made Patriot missiles came to Greece, they would have the capability of operating in conjunction with electronic weapons systems already deployed in Greece.

Cypriot defence minister to visit Athens

Cypriot Defence Minister Yiannakis Chryssostomos arrives in Athens on February 8 for a four-day visit expected to focus on the transport and installation of Russian S-300 missiles on the Greek island of Crete, according to an ANA dispatch from Nicosia.

Chryssostomos will meet with Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos during his visit.

The Cypriot defence minister said in Nicosia on Friday that defence department officials were continuing talks on the S-300 issue in Athens and that the ministry would act "in line with developments".

Cyprus announced late last year that it would not deploy the Russian surface to air missile system on the island, after consultations with the Greek government in Athens.

Greek MPs to attend Council of Europe meeting

An eleven-member Greek parliamentary delegation leaves for Strasbourg on Sunday to participate in the first part of the 1999 Meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The sessions of the meeting, which will be held from January 25-29, will deal with a number of issues including commitments and obligations of Turkey as a CoE member-state, the creation of an enlarged Europe, religion and democracy, the crisis in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, the situation in Federal Yugoslavia and internal security in Europe.

European Central Bank's Duisenberg has praise for Greece

The Greek economy has made significant progress in the last few years, the European Central Bank's chairman, Wim Duisenberg, said in Frankfurt on Friday.

Duisenberg said he hoped that Greece, along with the other EU member-states not participating in the euro, would soon join the single European currency.

Speaking to reporters, the ECB's chairman noted that Greece has fought hard improving its macro-economic and fiscal conditions, although not yet fully achieving all the convergence criteria to participate in economic and monetary union.

Duisenberg said he was aware of the government's pledge to participate in the euro by 2001 and he hoped that the EU's council would respond positively to the Greek demand.

Stocks end the week moderately lower

Greek equities ended the last trading session of the week on Friday moderately lower on the Athens Stock Exchange with sentiment hit by negative developments in international markets.

The general index ended 0.65 percent down at 2,985.75 points, off the day's lows.

The index ended the week 3.55 percent higher. Turnover was 91.7 billion drachmas. Volume was 19,886,000 shares. The week's average daily turnover rose to 100.2 billion drachmas, up from 97.5 billion the previous week.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 1.10 percent up, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 0.89 percent off to 1,894.27.

WEATHER

Mostly fair weather is forecast throughout the country on Monday. Winds will be north northweasterly in the west and east, light to strong, and very strong in the southern Aegean, easing off towards evening. Mostly fair weather in Athens with scattered cloud. Temperatures will range from 2C to 13C. Sunny weather in Thessaloniki with fog early in the morning. Temperatures will range from -1C to 10C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 275.687 Pound sterling 456.161 Japanese yen (100) 242.028 French franc 48.814 German mark 163.715 Italian lira (100) 16.537 Irish Punt 406.567 Belgian franc 7.937 Finnish mark 53.853 Dutch guilder 145.299 Danish kr. 43.833 Austrian sch. 23.270 Spanish peseta 1.924 Swedish kr. 35.597 Norwegian kr. 37.091 Swiss franc 200.131 Port. Escudo 1.597 Aus. dollar 175.405 Can. dollar 182.151 Cyprus pound 550.421

(C.S.)


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