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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-01

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, 01/02/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • European socialists call for solutions to growth, social policies
  • Premier promises less taxes next year
  • Simitis on Euroelections
  • Karamanlis confident of ND victory in next elections
  • Snowfall blankets northern Greece
  • Papathemelis announces formation of non-aligned citizens' movement
  • New agricultural institute planned
  • Thrace prosecutor warns of charges over students' road blocks
  • Closer EU-Turkey ties only if Ankara reverses policy on Cyprus
  • Imia crisis casualties remembered
  • Search continues for runaway Austrian schoolgirl
  • First Division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

European socialists call for solutions to growth, social policies

European socialist leaders on Saturday endorsed a manifesto for next June's Euro-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 European Socialist Party (ESP) in Milan on March 1- 2.

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 their countries.

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," Mr. Simitis said.

Representing Greece on the manifesto's drafting committee were Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis and an advisor to the premier, Nikos Themelis.

The European Socialist Party (ESP) is the largest group in the Europarliament, holding 214 out of 626 seats. Eleven of its members are in government.

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.

Other targets include reinforcement of citzens' rights; supporting youth in the next century; guaranteeing women's equal opportunities; fighting racism and xenophobia; protecting the environ-ment; upgrading Europe's cultural diversity; figh ting crime and accelerating the EU accession of candidate states.

Premier promises less taxes next year

Athens will be able lessen the tax burden on Greeks as of next year if the economy continues to develop positively, Prime Minister Simitis said.

Speaking to Greek reporters after a European Socialist leaders meeting, Mr, Simitis said the Socialists' policies could be summed up as being in favour of a "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 said.

The summit underlined the common values of democracy, human rights, social justice, equality of opportunity, social rights and social responsibility, he added.

Also stressed at the meeting was respect for international legality, with Mr. Simitis saying political expediency could not be cited as an excuse for the non-enforcement of international law in any case.

He also stressed that Greece continued to insist that each EU country contribute to the common cause in line with its wealth and ability to produce, recognising that not all countries were at the same level.

Simitis on Euroelections

Premier Simitis said the vote during the June Euroelections cannot be and should not be what he called ''slack'', because some very important issues will be decided for Greece.

Following the summit and referring to Greece, Mr. Simitis also said a socialist majority in the Europarliament will allow Athens to promote its economic, social as well as national aims much easier.

The premier said that with the vote in the Euroelections, Greek voters are called on to provide answers to dilemmas such as the continuation of policies to date, as well as the strong presence of Greece in European procedures and international balances, which are responsible for the decision-making process.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed what he called the challenge and ability emerging for European socialists to offer their peoples what neo-liberals and conservatives could not over the past decades.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos, participating in the ESP summit as a vice-president, said the difference with conservatives, was that socialists' decisions can become a "comprehensive strategic proposal for a new Europe, to be built after the upcoming Euroelections."

Karamanlis confident of ND victory in next elections

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday expressed certainty that ND will win the next general elections.

During a conference of ND party cadres in Germany over the weekend, Mr. Karamanlis also said ND is developing a specific programme for every major sector.

Mr. Karamanilis said that what he is aiming at a major leap for Greece in terms of effectiveness, reliability and quality, as well as "of lesser words and more action."

Commenting on the ruling PASOK government, he said "it is closing its cycle in history and does not correspond to expectations of citizens."

Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, he said Ankara is encouraged to increase its demands by what he called the PASOK government's "policy of acquiescence."

Speaking on the government's controversial education reform and what he termed expatriates' "severe education problem," Mr. Karamanlis admitted that all governments since 1974 did not live up to expectations.

The ND leader went on to say that the quetion is not when will Greece enter European Monetary Union (EMU) but whether "we will enter standing up or out of breath and last in line."

He also said that there should be Greek schools outside Greece and in cases where there are not enough Greek students, a mixed educational system should be implemented, adding that Greek expatriate students should have access to the Greek university sys tem through bilateral agreements.

Mr. Karamanlis called for a policy toward expatriates based on the opportunity for their children to learn Greek and Hellenic culture, .

While Mr. Karamanlis did not comment on speculations that popular Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos will create a new party, he did issue an indirect warning, saying that "those who are comfortable with today's decline will attempt to stop ND from coming to power."

Snowfall blankets northern Greece

Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport was closed for the second day in a row on Sunday as overnight frost made plane landings and take-offs too risky.

Severe weather is expected to continue today, with snowfall, freezing rains and cold temperatures throughout most of Greece.

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 mercury 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.

A number of minor accidents, attributed to low visibility, forced drivers to abandon their cars and make their way on foot. Also treacherous, particularly for the elderly, were slippery footpaths, with emergency services advising the elderly to stay home to avoid falls after they received dozen of calls for help.

Seven villages - four in Grevena, two in Kozani and one in Florina - have been snowed in by heavy snowfall. Snowfall also caused a power outtage in the villages of Kardi and Epanomi, near Thessaloniki.

Papathemelis announces formation of non-aligned citizens' movement

Ruling PASOK deputy and former minister Stelios Papathemelis announced yesterday that he was launching a non-aligned citizens' movement to explore and challenge social, religious and foreign policy issues.

The Thessaloniki-area deputy said the movement aimed to cut through political party affiliations and attract a wide range of people, although politicians would also be welcome.

Mr. Papathemelis was speaking in the northern port city at a New Year's celebration held by his political office, while around 2,000 people attended, despite inclement weather.

He said that also launching the movement, whose founding meeting will due to be held in Athens in mid-February, were friends and associates who represented "a broad social spectrum of thinking and active citizens."

The movement's main areas of interest were research into Hellenism and Greek Orthodoxy, the struggle for Greece and for democracy, as well as civic responsibility and ethics.

In his address to the celebration, the deputy blasted the non-deployment of the Russian-made S-300 missiles on Cyprus, and their projected redeployment on Greece's largest island of Crete.

Commenting on a recent statement by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos that the missile order was wrong, Mr. Papathemelis said: "The minister is speaking as if he were from another government, country or planet."

New agricultural institute planned

Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis yesterday announced that the "National Institute of Agricultural and Farm Exploitation" will be operational by April, having been first turned into a research institution.

At the end of his four-day tour of eastern Macedonia and Thrace yesterday, the agriculture minister said that within February the legal framework will be created for the new agency.

He added that 23 product lines have common organisations, while at least 18 of those should have their own professional organisations.

Thrace prosecutor warns of charges over students' road blocks

Pupils blocking roads in eastern Macedonia and Thrace to protest the government's education reforms will from now on face charges, a public prosecutor said yesterday.

Thrace appeals court prosecutor Argyris Tsihlas asked regional judicial authorities to inform pupils and their parents that "patience had worn thin, and legal action would be taken."

"Judging by their behaviour, pupils seem to believe they have the right to act arbitrarily - and occasionally destructively - without being punished," Mr. Tsihlas stated in a circular to the heads of regional prosecutors' offices.

Protesting students throughout the country have staged brief blockades of both primary and secondary roads for two months, often severely disrupting traffic. Violence has also occasionally erupted.

He added that the legally ordained limits for protest action were clearly defined.

Closer EU-Turkey ties only if Ankara reverses policy on Cyprus

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou stressed in Nicosia yesterday that Greece continued to support Turkey's efforts for closer European Union ties, warning however, that they would be in vain if Ankara did not change its stance on Cyprus.

Speaking in Nicosia during a conference on the last day of a three-day visit, Mr. Papandreou 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," Mr. 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 illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied territories headed by Rauf Denktash, which he said, worked to the detriment of all the Turkish Cypriots.

He added that Cyprus' 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.

"It is up to them (the Turkish Cypriots) whether they will participate in accession procedures," Mr. Papandreou said. "Cyprus will in any way accede to the European Union, whether with the Turkish Cypriots or without them."

Speaking after a meeting yesterday with Socialist Party EDEK leader Vassos Lyssarides, Mr. Papandreou said they discussed cooperation between Greece and Cyprus regarding the joint defence doctrince, initiated by his father, late premier Andreas Papandreou. He said the pact was "a given fact."

Imia crisis casualties remembered

Separate memorial services for the three Navy helicopter crewmembers who died in action during the Imia crisis in late January 1996 were held yesterday in Athens and Piraeus.

A memorial bust of helicopter commander Christodoulos Karathanasis was unveiled in the Papagos district of Athens, as Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, the nation's military leadership and relatives attended the ceremony.

Christodoulos noted that Imia was a "national disgrace...something that should never be repeated."

A memorial service for co-pilot Panayiotis Vlahakos took place in Piraeus, while a third ceremony for Ektoras Yialopsos was held in the Petroupoli district.

Search continues for runaway Austrian schoolgirl

Police in the port city of Patra continued a search for an Austrian schoolgirl missing since Saturday.

Silvia Hobarth, 16, was last seen on the yacht "Noah", which was docked at the port of Patra.

The teen is in Greece on a school trip sponsored by the Austrian government. Sources said the 16-year-old had left a note explaining her disappearance, while she is believed to still be in Patra.

First Division soccer results

AEK Athens 2 Olympiakos Piraeus 2-0 Ionikos 5 Ethnikos Astir 5-0 Apollon Athens 2 Xanthi 2- 1 Panelefsiniakos 0 Iraklis Thessaloniki 0-1 Kavala 1 Paniliakos Pyrgos 1-1 Veria 4 Ethnikos Piraeus 4-3 Panathinaikos 1 OFI Iraklion 1- 0 Panionios Athens 0 PAOK Thessaloniki 0-1 Standings/points: Olympiakos 40, Panathinaikos 37, AEK 36, PAOK 35, Xanthi 31, Aris 27, OFI 26, Ionikos 25, Iraklis 24.

WEATHER

Overcast weather is forecast throughout the country today with snow in central and northern mainland Greece and the northern Aegean. Other areas may see rain, with snow in the mountainous regions and storms at sea. Athens will be cloudy with snow on high ground. Improvement from the evening with temperatures from 3-9C. Heavy snowfall in Thessaloniki easing off in the afternoon. Temperatures will range from -2-0C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

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

(C.E.)


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