Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-01-31
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 31/01/1999 (ANA)
- Austrian girl missing in Patras since Saturday
- Thessaloniki airport closed due to frost
- European socialists forge manifesto
- No injuries, damage in earthquake
- Two injured in football violence
- Teachers unions to resume talks over education rift
- Alternate FM on Cyprus issue
- Greeks may pay less tax next year, PM says
- Greece states conditional backing for closer Turkey-EU ties
- Fire aboard Cypriot cargo vessel
- Cretan air carrier begins flights to Bari
- Athens bourse hits new record
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Austrian girl missing in Patras since Saturday
Police in the Peloponnese port city of Patras have begun a search for an
Austrian schoolgirl missing since Saturday.
Silvia Hobarth, 16, was last seen on the pleasure craft Noah, which was
docked at the port of Patras.
Hobarth is in Greece on a school trip sponsored by the Austrian government
for children with special needs.
Sources said that Hobarth had left a note explaining her disappearance and
classmates of the girl believe she is somewhere in Patras.
Thessaloniki airport closed due to frost
Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport was shut down for the second day in a row
on Sunday as overnight frost made descent and take off too risky for
On Saturday, heavy snowfall in the northern city kept the airport closed
for most of the day, allowing it to open late in the afternoon.
The sudden drop in temperatures across most of northern Greece has also
made the region's roads hazardous for drivers. The temperature in much of
northern Greece fell to zero.
The melting snows has forced motorists on national roads and even within
the city centre to resort to snow chains. Thessaloniki residents were last
forced to use snow chains to move around the city in 1988.
European socialists forge manifesto
European socialist leaders on Saturday endorsed a manifesto for elections
in the 15-nation bloc that pledges to lower unemployment, expand social
policies, boost growth and improve environmental protection.
The manifesto, the first of its kind devised by European socialists, was
approved at a leaders' summit in Vienna and is destined for ratification at
a congress of the Party of European Socialists in Milan on March 1-
It will act as a base for election campaigns by socialist parties in Euro-
elections in June, but allows them to tailor the details to the needs of
Representing Greece at the summit was Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who
said that European socialists and social democrats wanted solutions to
guarantee growth and employment.
"Economic progress so far has helped to ensure stability and growth in
Europe. But clouds on the horizon - financial crises - are likely to
suspend the growth process, having a negative impact on employment,"
"That is why socialist parties in government are concerned at how they can
give new impetus to growth and employment by reducing taxes, reinforcing
demand, creating infrastructure, including the Trans-European Networks, and
backing research and technology."
The manifesto was drafted by British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Henri
Nallet, a leader of the French Socialist Party.
Representing Greece on the document's drafting committee were Deputy
Foreign Minister Yiannis Kranidiotis and an advisor to the prime minister,
The Party of European Socialists is the largest group in the European
parliament, holding 214 out of 626 seats. Eleven of its members are in
The manifesto contains a commitment to forge an agreement on employment,
and a strategy for growth based on coordinating national economic policies
in order to spur demand and investment, also developing the Trans-European
Germany, the EU's six-month rotating president, hopes the agreement on
employment will be adopted at an EU summit in June, when its term
The agreement could act as a counterweight to a stability agreement forged
two years ago in order to attain fiscal discipline among countries destined
to join European economic and monetary union, socialist officials
Other targets contained in the 21-point document are the encouragement of
tax harmonisation, closer defence cooperation, revision of the common
agricultural policy, reform of the EU budget, and greater transparency and
efficiency in the EU's Council of Ministers.
No injuries, damage in earthquake
An earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale shook Etoloakarnania and
Achaia at 1416 on Sunday. No injuries or damage were reported, police
The 15-kilometre deep epicentre of the earthquake, recorded by Patras
University's Seismological Laboratory, lay between Andirrio and Nafpaktos.
Two injured in football violence
Two men were injured late on Saturday when rival football fans clashed in
central Omonia Square.
The PAOK and Olympiakos fans threw planks of wood, stones and other items
at one another. Some wielded knives.
Police said two PAOK fans - a 20-year-old hit by a stone to the head and a
25-year-old who received a knife wound to the foot - were taken to hospital
for treatment and were in a satisfactory condition.
A window of a hotel near the clashes was shattered during the fighting.
A number of people were detained by police for questioning over the
incidents but no arrests have as yet been announced.
Teachers unions to resume talks over education rift
A divided seconday school teachers' federation (OLME) resumes talks again
on Sunday on finding a unified position to take into talks with the
education ministry over seeking a way out of the impasse in the country's
Squabbling between political groups in OLME led to Saturday's meeting being
called off, with the ruling party PASOK-affiliated faction, PASK, walking
out of the meeting.
PASK said if OLME board members continued their "intransigent policy", they
would walk out again on Sunday.
Sources said the dispute between PASK and other factions was whether to
request not holding examinations for second year senior high school
students this year.
Representatives of students occupying schools in the Athens region
reiterated over the weekend a call for talks, saying that they now did not
demand the abolition of the law but only the abolition of the exams at
second year senior high level.
High school students have called for the education ministry's wide-ranging
reform law to be revoked and for Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis to
resign, saying the changes would transform secondary education into an
endless stream of examinations.
Examinations for second year senior high school are considered to be a
crucial factor in any talks, as the new law provides for an average of the
final two years of senior high school to be taken into account for
Students are opposed to the measure both for the emphasis on examinations
and because they believe that they have not been given enough forewarning
of the measure.
The near three months of protests have been characterised by occupations of
school buildings, mass protest marches and clashes with motorists as
students block city and national roads. Parents and students wanting to
resume classes have also come to blows with hardline student protestors.
According to Deputy Education Minister Yiannis Anthopoulos, most occupations
of schools appear to have petered out over the past two weeks and only 6.0
percent of schools around the country still occupied.
At the peak of the protests, thousands of schools were out of action.
Talks early last week between the ministry and teachers broke down after
two days, with teachers holding a 48-hour strike against the law on
Thursday and Friday.
The ministry is meanwhile working on a formula that will allow students to
make up for the time lost during school protests and to enable to sit the
exams this year.
This will probably entail lessons on Saturdays, public holidays, a cutback
in school holiday periods and excursions and extending the daily school day
by one hour.
Alternate FM on Cyprus issue
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Saturday that
potential in the Cyprus issue should be exploited in order to nudge Turkey
towards an overall agreement on gradual demilitarisation of the divided
Speaking in Nicosia, Papandreou said a demilitarisation agreement and fair
settlement of the Cyprus issue could lead to peaceful co-existence by Greek
and Turkish Cypriots.
Cyprus' planned entry into the European Union also could be key to
achieving positive developments, he added.
Papandreou pledged that Greece would help Cyprus to harmonise its laws with
the EU in preparation for entry.
The task would raise political and technical difficulties, but the Greek
and Cypriot parliaments could work together to resolve them.
In addition, Papandreou promised to ask ministry legal experts and the
lawyers' union to propose members for a working group that is to hammer out
the details of harmonisation.
His statements on harmonisaton were made at a meeting with Cyprus' general
prosecutor, Alekos Markidis.
Greeks may pay less tax next year, PM says
The government will be able lessen the tax burden on Greeks as of next year
if the economy continues to develop positively, Prime Minister Costas
Simitis told his European Socialist Party partners at their meeting in
Vienna on Saturday.
Speaking to Greek journalists after the meeting, Simitis said the
Socialists' policies could be summed up as being in favour of an "market
economy but not a market society".
The European socialist governments deeply feel the duty and their mission
to achieve a Europe which is continually developing and socially just, he
The summit underlined the common values of democracy, human rights, social
justice, equality of opportunity, social rights and social responsibility.
Greece states conditional backing for closer Turkey-EU ties
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Sunday that Greece
continued to support Turkey's efforts for closer ties with the European
Union but warned that they would be in vain if Ankara did not change its
stance on Cyprus.
Speaking in Nicosia on the last day of a three-day visit, Papapndreou said
Ankara was using the Turkish Cypriot community on the divided island to
push its own designs.
"We want Turkey in Europe but it falls on the shoulders of the neighbouring
country to prove it can meet the criteria it has been set... criteria that
are not only economic but related to democracy, human rights, respect for
international law," Papandreou said.
"These are related to its ties with Cyprus and Greece," he said.
He called on moderate Turkish Cypriot groups to reject the intransigent
policies of the regime headed by Rauf Denktash, which he said, worked to
the detriment of the Turkish Cypriots.
He said that Cyprus's accession to the European Union would bring the
Turkish Cypriot community economic and political benefits and also deprive
Turkey of the argument that occupying forces on the islands were needed to
protect the community.
Fire aboard Cypriot cargo vessel
A fire broke out early on Saturday morning aboard a Cypriot-flagged cargo
vessel carrying 14,000 tonnes of sugar from Belgium to Iran. No injuries
The 10,800-grt Rallia was sailing off western Crete in gale force winds
when the fire erupted in the engine room.
The crew of five Greeks and 22 non-Greek nationals were unable to
extinguish the fire, and gathered on the ship's bow awaiting assistance.
The merchant marine ministry ordered emergency sea and air services to the
area, and alerted nearby shipping.
A lifeboat, tug, Russian cargo ship, fishing boat and air force helicopter
rushed to the scene.
The Rallia's captain, Dimitris Pateras, 57, was in constant contact with
the ministry's operations room.
Most of the seamen were airlifted or shipped to safety on Saturday
afternoon with nine crewmembers staying aboard to put out the fire, which
already had abated.
Cretan air carrier begins flights to Bari
The Cretan private airline company "Air Greece" on Friday announced an
additional service to Bari, Italy which will begin on February 15. The
flights will depart from Athens every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10.00
am local time. "Air Greece believes that the benefits of the new service
will be multiple, not only on the levels of tourism and commerce but also
from the cultural viewpoint," the airline said in a statement.
Athens bourse hits new record
Equities surged to new records for the third consecutive session on the
Athens Stock Exchange on Friday in record turnover which caused problems in
the operation of the market's electronic trading system. The general index
ended 1.80 percent higher at 3,149.50 points, its seventh record close in
1999. Turnover was 133.133 billion drachmas. Volume was 20,350,000 shares.
Sector indices were mixed. The parallel market index for small cap
companies fell 1.58 percent, while the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 2.03 percent
up to 2,001.65, an all-time high.
Overcast weather is forecast throughout the country on Monday with snow in
central and northern mainland Greece and the northern Aegean. Other areas
may see rain, with snow expected on high ground and storms at sea.
Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 279.218
Pound sterling 460.169 Japanese yen (100) 240.064
French franc 48.569 German mark 162.893
Italian lira (100) 16.454 Irish Punt 404.527
Belgian franc 7.898 Finnish mark 53.583
Dutch guilder 144.570 Danish kr. 42.805
Austrian sch. 23.153 Spanish peseta 1.915
Swedish kr. 35.875 Norwegian kr. 37.073
Swiss franc 197.388 Port. Escudo 1.589
Aus. dollar 175.951 Can. dollar 184.334
Cyprus pound 548.834