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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 99-12-16

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <ert.ntua.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PRE-AGENDA DEBATE ON RESULTS OF HELSINKI EU SUMMIT
  • [02] IMPORTANCE OF CYPRUS PROXIMITY TALKS UNDERLINED BY UN
  • [03] GREEK ECONOMY'S CONVERGENCE PROGRAMME UNTIL 2002
  • [04] INTEREST RATES REDUCED
  • [05] ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE DOWN 4, 44% ON WEDNESDAY
  • [06] LOWER PRICES FOR PETROL
  • [07] STUDENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN MANY CITIES TODAY
  • [08] BOTSIS FOUNDATION PRIZES AWARDED YESTERDAY

  • [01] PRE-AGENDA DEBATE ON RESULTS OF HELSINKI EU SUMMIT

    A pre-agenda debate on Greek-Turkish relations in the light of the decisions taken at the Helsinki EU summit opened in the Greek parliament yesterday with a speech by the prime minister, Kostas Simitis. The debate, which took place at party leader level, was held at the initiative of the Democratic Social Movement. The prime minister said the Helsinki decisions were of historic importance for peace, security and growth in the region and constituted a vindication of Greek foreign policy. It was through this policy, he said, that Greece had become a factor for positive developments in the region and he condemned the opposition New Democracy party for once again voicing unacceptable views which led today to confrontation and tomorrow to early elections. For his part, the New Democracy party leader, Kostas Karamanlis, maintained the government had turned Turkey's unilateral claims into bilateral differences.

    The president of the Democratic Social Movement, Dimitris Tsovolas, alleged that Turkey's illegal claims in the Aegean had been portrayed as unresolved border disputes. The general secretary of the Greek Communist party, Aleka Papariga, complained the results of the Helsinki summit further promoted what she called the Americanization of the Aegean, while the Coalition leader, Nikos Konstantopoulos, claimed the decisions offered favourable prospects if they were properly exploited.

    The foreign minister, Giorgos Papandreou, pointed out that the agreement reached at the Helsinki summit presented an opportunity to change the framework in which Greece had been operating for many years, since it reflected Greek interests and created fresh prospects for Greek-Turkish relations. Finally the national defence minister, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, said the agreement regarding Cyprus' accession to the EU was an extremely positive development, but added that the path towards an improvement in Greek-Turkish relations would not be easy.

    [02] IMPORTANCE OF CYPRUS PROXIMITY TALKS UNDERLINED BY UN

    The chairman of the UN Security Council, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, has issued a written statement underlining the importance of the proximity talks on Cyprus and also the wish of the five permanent Security Council members that the process should continue at the beginning of next month. It is expected that the second round of talks will take place in New York in late January. The Security Council members have agreed on a compromise draft resolution for the renewal of the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus, a resolution apparently acceptable to both sides. It makes special mention of resolution 1251 and reaffirms all the other Security Council resolutions on the Cyprus issue. Meanwhile the Turkish prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, had a meeting in Constantinople yesterday with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, who arrived from New York following the end of the first round of proximity talks on the Cyprus dispute. At a press conference after the meeting, Mr Ecevit reiterated the well-established Turkish position that recognition of the existence of two separate states on Cyprus was a pre-condition for any progress in the Cyprus issue.

    [03] GREEK ECONOMY'S CONVERGENCE PROGRAMME UNTIL 2002

    The national economy minister, Yannos Papantoniou, submitted the Greek economy's convergence programme for the period until 2002 to the European Commission yesterday. The new programme calls for a further reduction in public deficits, stabilisation of the inflation rate at 2% and an increase in the growth rate. Unemployment is expected to drop from 10.5% in 1999 to 9.7% in 2000. Mr Papantoniou also said the Greek side was holding talks with the relevant EU bodies on revaluation of the drachma. Final decisions should be expected by next June at the latest.

    [04] INTEREST RATES REDUCED

    The Bank of Greece announced yesterday that it was reducing intervention interest rates by 0.75%. The National Bank and the Alpha Credit Bank have already announced they are cutting their interest rates on deposits and loans and the other commercial banks are expected to follow suit.

    [05] ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE DOWN 4, 44% ON WEDNESDAY

    On the Athens Stock Exchange, the general share price index suffered a loss of 4, 44%, closing at 5,190, 99 points.

    [06] LOWER PRICES FOR PETROL

    New lower prices for petrol go into effect at midnight tonight. A spokesman for the EU's environment commissioner, Pia Haneen, has said the European Commission is expected to delay a decision on whether it will extend the deadline on the use of lead and sulphur in fuel used in five EU member countries, including Greece, until 22nd December. The spokesman said he did not know whether the Commission would extend the deadline by one year as proposed by the environment commissioner, or two years as agreed on at the Helsinki summit. Greek environment ministry officials have said Greece will ask for a 5-year extension of the use of leaded petrol, and if the request is turned down Greece is prepared to take the matter to the European Court.

    [07] STUDENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN MANY CITIES TODAY

    Fresh student demonstrations against educational reforms are to be staged in Athens and other major cities today.

    [08] BOTSIS FOUNDATION PRIZES AWARDED YESTERDAY

    For the 18th year running, in the presence of Greek president Kostis Stefanopoulos, the "Athanasios Vasiliou Botsis" Foundation for the Promotion of Journalism yesterday awarded prizes to journalists who distinguished themselves in their work and their dedication to the code of professional ethics.
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