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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 98-03-16

From: Macedonian Press Agency <mpa@philippos.mpa.gr>

Macedonian Press Agency: News in English Directory

MACEDONIAN PRESS AGENCY NEWS IN ENGLISH

Thessaloniki, March 16, 1998


NEWS IN ENGLISH

[A] NATIONAL NEWS

[B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS


TITLES

[A] NATIONAL NEWS

  • [01] GREEK PREMIER CURRENTLY AT PRAGUE, TO MEET WITH CZECH PM

  • [02] CONSUMER GOODS TO BECOME DEARER AS DRACHMA DEVALUATES BY 14%

  • [03] FINANCE UNDERSECRETARY IS CONFIDENT:AFTERSHOCKS WILL BE ABSORBED

  • [04] IRS BRANCHES AND POST OFFICES TO STAY OPEN UNTIL THE NIGHT

  • [05] GREEEK DEFENSE MINISTER IN BRUSSELS TO CELEBRATE WEU’S 50TH YEAR

  • [06] TOURISM INDUSTRY IS SURE TO GAIN FROM DRACHMA’S DEVALUATION

  • [07] GENERAL PRICE INDEX AT ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE RISES BY 6.98%

  • [08] GREECE’S PASOK AND GERMANY’S SOCIAL DEMOCRATS MEET IN BONN

  • [09] GSEE ELECTS NEW ADMINISTRATION AT 2OTH CONFERENCE HELD IN KAVALA

  • [10] BRITISH TRADE MISSIONS IN ATHENS TOMORROW AND WEDNESDAY

  • [11] TAIWAN TO SEND TRADE MISSION TO GREECE ON WEDNESDAY

  • [12] GREEK ATHLETES WIN GOLD AND SILVER MEDALS AT BALKAN MARATHONS

  • [13] THE GREEK PRIME MINISTER MET IN PRAGUE WITH HIS CZECH COUNTERPART

  • [14] SIMITIS: NO NEW DEVALUATION OF THE DRACHMA

  • [15] PAPANTONIOU SUGGESTED CALM

  • [16] NEW DEMOCRACY MEETING ON THE ECONOMY

  • [17] 7,3% RISE IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE

  • [18] GENITSARIS: THE DEVALUATION OF THE DRACHMA WAS THE RIGHT DECISION

  • [19] MINISTRY OF PUBLIC ORDER MEETING ON THE RISING CRIME RATE

  • [20] PAPANDREOU: GREECE WANTS TURKEY’S ACCESSION INTO THE EU

  • [21] THE BRITISH PRESS ON DRACHMA’S INCLUSION IN THE ERM

  • [22] GREECE WELCOMES THE EU FOREIGN MINISTERS’ COUNCIL DECISION ON CYPRUS


  • [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • [23] CYPRUS ‘ ACCESSION NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE EU TO START ON MARCH 31

  • [24] TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER TO TRAVEL TO EGYPT ON FRIDAY

  • [25] US ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE TRAVELS TO TIRANA TODAY

  • [26] BELGRADE GIVES ANOTHER INVITATION TO KOSSOVO’S ALBANIANS FOR TALKS

  • [27] ALBANIAN WOMEN RALLY FROM PRISHTINA TO DRENICA

  • [28] THE UN SPECIAL ADVISER ON CYPRUS WILL HAVE A SERIES OF CONTACTS

  • [29] KOSOVO ETHNIC ALBANIANS REJECT DIALOGUE PROPOSALS


  • NEWS IN DETAIL

    [A] NATIONAL NEWS

    [01] GREEK PREMIER CURRENTLY AT PRAGUE, TO MEET WITH CZECH PM

    Greece’s Prime Minister Kostas Simitis is currently on an official three-day visit to the Czech Republic, heading a government delegation.

    Mr. Simitis, who arrive on Sunday afternoon, is to meet with Czech political leaders with whom he will discuss the strengthening of diplomatic ties, improving economic cooperation and increasing Greek exports.

    The Greek Premier is to meet today with his Czech counterpart and tomorrow will be received by the President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel.

    The Czech Republic belongs to the first batch of countries that are up for accession to the European Union and is counting on Greece’s support during the accession negotiations that are to start on March 31.

    [02] CONSUMER GOODS TO BECOME DEARER AS DRACHMA DEVALUATES BY 14%

    The Minister of National Economy and Finance Yiannos Papantoniou announced a package of drastic economic measures yesterday, which are to send upwards prices of fuel, cars and imports.

    The package, which has already sparked considerable unrest among the Greeks, provides for the partial privatization of 11 public utilities and three or four state-controlled banks in 1998 and 1999, with the state retaining minimum 51 per cent stakes. It also foresees the streamlining of other loss-making utilities, such as the national carrier Olympic Airways, railways, urban transport and the post-office.

    Mr. Papantoniou also announced that he will soon table a draft bill on changes in the social security system, and revealed measures for trimming public deficits, as well as changes in labor market regulations affecting both the private and public sectors.

    The Minister stated that the fiscal adjustment measures aim at reducing public sector deficits to 2.4 and 2.1 per cent of GDP in 1998 and 1999 respectively. He stressed that the target of further bringing down inflation to 2.5 per cent by the end of the year still stands, and urged employers and unions to adopt the figure as a guideline in negotiations for collective labor agreements.

    [03] FINANCE UNDERSECRETARY IS CONFIDENT:AFTERSHOCKS WILL BE ABSORBED

    The undersecretary of Finance George Drys has expressed his confidence that the aftershocks resulting from the national currency’s devaluation are to be absorbed by the dynamism of the country’s economy.

    Mr. Drys stressed that the Greek government’s main target is to contain inflation at the 2.5% level by the end of 1998 and added that there will be a sharp decrease of interest rates and a growth of Greek exports as the domestic products are to become more competitive.

    Moreover, he added that Greek farmers are to gain from subsidies resulting from the drachma-ECU parity, while positive effects will be borne on the tourism sector.

    Referring to the possibility of a further devaluation, Mr. Drys stated that the margin for the drachma’s fluctuation is finally very limited and the national currency now possesses new international value.

    [04] IRS BRANCHES AND POST OFFICES TO STAY OPEN UNTIL THE NIGHT

    The country’s Internal Revenue Service branches and post offices are to remain open until eight p.m. today and tomorrow in order to receive the last minute tax reports.

    Meanwhile, rumors abound that the Finance Ministry will grant an extension for filing tax reports until Friday, March 20.

    [05] GREEEK DEFENSE MINISTER IN BRUSSELS TO CELEBRATE WEU’S 50TH YEAR

    Festivities commemorating the fiftieth year since the Western European Union’s founding are to be held in Brussels tomorrow.

    The Greek government, which is currently holding the WEU’s rotating presidium, is to be represented by the Minister of National Defense Akis Tsochatzopoulos and the Secretary-General for European Affairs, professor Stelios Perakis.

    [06] TOURISM INDUSTRY IS SURE TO GAIN FROM DRACHMA’S DEVALUATION

    Greek tourism industry officials are rubbing their hands with glee as the drachma’s devaluation is to result in a boost of tourism, even beyond this year’s projected increase of 15-20%.

    The Secretary-General of the Tourism Agencies Association of Macedonia-Thrace Dimitris Mantousis told the Macedonian Press Agency that this devaluation has its good and bad points.

    “it’s expected to notably boost incoming tourism, while agents and hotels are to especially benefit,” he said, albeit he added that Greeks who wish to travel abroad are not going to be in such a favorable position.

    The greatest increases in arrivals are expected from Britain and Germany.

    [07] GENERAL PRICE INDEX AT ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE RISES BY 6.98%

    The general price index at the Athens Stock Exchange presented a sharp increase of 6.98% this afternoon while bourse activity reached the 26-million-drachma mark.

    Meanwhile, interest rates for periods exceeding six months have fallen to 11%, this being the first time since October they have reached this level.

    [08] GREECE’S PASOK AND GERMANY’S SOCIAL DEMOCRATS MEET IN BONN

    A delegation of Greece’s ruling socialist PASOK party officials is currently in Bonn, where they will meet with officials from Germany's Social Democrat Party (SPD) with whom they will discuss bilateral relations, issues concerning Greek immigrants living in Germany, Greek-Turkish relations, and the Cyprus issue.

    The Greek delegation is headed by National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, PASOK Central Committee Secretary Kostas Skandalidis and Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis.

    At the end of today's talks, the members of the Greek delegation are expected to have a brief meeting with SPD President Oskar Lafontaine, the candidate for the Chancellery Gerhard Schroeder and other SPD officials.

    [09] GSEE ELECTS NEW ADMINISTRATION AT 2OTH CONFERENCE HELD IN KAVALA

    The 29th conference of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) concluded in Kavala yesterday with the election of a new administration.

    The socialist PASOK-affiliated PASKE labor group came first, albeit without managing an absolute majority, and the conservative New Democracy party-affiliated DAKE group came second, winning the same number of seats as the communist ESAK group. DAKE gained more votes than ESAK and consequently will seek the post of GSEE's Secretary-General.

    The outgoing GSEE President and PASKE Secretary Christos Polyzogopoulos said working people, with their votes at the conference, are sending their own message of unity and determination on tackling the situation being created with the measures announced by the government.

    [10] BRITISH TRADE MISSIONS IN ATHENS TOMORROW AND WEDNESDAY

    Two trade missions from Great Britain are to visit Athens tomorrow and Wednesday.

    One delegation of over 26 companies plans to demonstrate specialist equipment for airport services and equipment produced in the UK, while the second will arrive from Iraklion, Crete, bringing a mini-exhibition of products and services in contract furnishings for hotels and tourist resorts.

    [11] TAIWAN TO SEND TRADE MISSION TO GREECE ON WEDNESDAY

    Taiwan's Council for External Trade and Development (CETPA) is sending a trade mission to Greece on March 18 to boost economic ties between the two countries.

    The delegation sent by CETPA, a non-profit organization, comprises 31 Taiwanese companies from a wide range of sectors. The group will stay until March 22 while an exhibition of their products will be held on March 10 at the Athens Hilton.

    Trade between Greece and Taiwan fell by 4.2 percent in 1997 to 187 million dollars from 195.1 million in 1996, according to CETPA statistics. Greek imports from Taiwan dropped by 39.3 percent to 17 million dollars last year from 28 million in 1996, while Greek exports to Taiwan rose by 1.7 percent to 170 million dollars from 167.1 million in 1996.

    [12] GREEK ATHLETES WIN GOLD AND SILVER MEDALS AT BALKAN MARATHONS

    Greek marathon runner Nikos Pollias won the gold medal at the Balkan Marathon Championships held in Skopje, having run 42 kilometers and 195 meters in two hours, 17 minutes and two seconds.

    In the women’s race, Katerina Fotopoulou won the silver medal with a time of two hours and 48 minutes, coming second to Bulgaria’s Gerbina Voyionova.

    Aside from Greece and Bulgaria, competing in the Balkan championships were FYROM, Moldavia, Romania, Yugoslavia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    [13] THE GREEK PRIME MINISTER MET IN PRAGUE WITH HIS CZECH COUNTERPART

    Greece’s relations with the Czech Republic, the Cyprus issue, Cyprus’ EU accession negotiations and the Greek-Turkish issues, were the topics discussed in Prague today by Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis and his Czech counterpart Jozef Tosovski.

    After the meeting, the two prime ministers gave a joint press conference. On the occasion of the talks for the Czech Republic’s accession into the EU, that are scheduled to open in two weeks, prime minister Simitis referred to Cyprus’ accession negotiations saying that no one has formally linked Cyprus’ accession with the solution of the problem, because this would have been unacceptable and would have turned Cyprus into a hostage of Turkey.

    Later, the Greek prime minister met with Czech deputy prime minister and foreign minister Jaroslav Sedivy, while in the evening he will attend a formal dinner given by the Czech prime minister.

    Tomorrow morning, Mr. Simitis will meet with the country’s president Vaclav Havel and later he will attend a formal reception at the Greek embassy building.

    [14] SIMITIS: NO NEW DEVALUATION OF THE DRACHMA

    The exchange rate for the drachma will remain unchanged in the future and with this exchange rate Greece will participate in the European economic and monetary union, stated prime minister Kostas Simitis during his visit to Prague.

    The prime minister characterized Greece’s participation in the European exchange rate mechanism as an important step and added that the EU members that participate in the exchange rate mechanism committee want the mechanism to be stable and avoid turbulence. Therefore, he said, they would have rejected a national currency if it came from a country that would not safeguard this stability. Mr. Simitis stated that the fact that they accepted Greece and its currency means that the country has the ability to participate in the EMU.

    The Greek prime minister stated that the negotiations that lasted a month were aimed at protecting the stability of the drachma from now on.

    [15] PAPANTONIOU SUGGESTED CALM

    Minister of national economy and finance Yiannos Papantoniou suggested calm in statements he made after the extraordinary meeting that was held in the ministry of National Economy.

    The effects from the devaluation of the drachma will be small and short-term and businessmen should not attempt to affect the prices, stressed Mr. Papantoniou.

    The government regards as good the climate that is being formed in the market, stated general secretary of press Mr. Nikos Athanasakis, who characterized as great decision drachma’s participation in the European exchange rate mechanism.

    [16] NEW DEMOCRACY MEETING ON THE ECONOMY

    A meeting on the developments in the economy was held at the offices of the main opposition party of New Democracy. ND leader Kostas Karamanlis decided to pose a question to the prime minister in Parliament regarding the issue.

    The Communist party stated that it is a sell-out of the national resources, while Coalition of the Left leader Nikos Konstantopoulos submitted a question in Parliament blaming the government for misleading the social sector and foreign debts.

    [17] 7,3% RISE IN THE ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE

    A rise of 7,3% was recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange, while the downward trend observed in the interest rates and the revaluation of the drachma by 2,5% toward the US dollar, which reached 319 drachmas at noon namely, 8 drachmas less compared to its price at the opening of the transactions, were the basic characteristics of the day after the devaluation of the Greek national currency by 14%.

    President of supermarket owners’ association Kostas Veropoulos speculated that the increases in the consumer goods’ prices will be at 4% on the average, while fuel prices will be by 6-7 drachmas higher per liter. As it is expected, the devaluation of the drachma will bring about price hikes in the food market, cars, electric appliances and beverages.

    [18] GENITSARIS: THE DEVALUATION OF THE DRACHMA WAS THE RIGHT DECISION

    President of the Association of Exporters in Northern Greece Apostolos Genitsaris expressed the belief that the government decision for the devaluation of the drachma was the most appropriate in this specific period of time.

    The drachma’s new exchange rate will have, according to Mr. Genitsaris, very positive effects such as, the recovery of the Greek economy and the increased competitiveness of the Greek products.

    Mr. Genitsaris stressed that a necessary pre-condition toward this direction is that the devaluation has to be accompanied by the right structural measures such as, the reduction of the public sector deficit as well as, the intervention in the job market and the speedy promotion of privatizations.

    [19] MINISTRY OF PUBLIC ORDER MEETING ON THE RISING CRIME RATE

    The high crime rate was at the center of the extraordinary meeting that was held today in Athens. The meeting was presided over by minister of public order Giorgos Romeos and took place with the participation of all the high ranking police officers. The minister stated that the high crime rate casts a shadow over the new face of the Greek police force.

    In the meeting it was decided that police patrols should increase, especially during the night and every police department should assign a number of police officers to patrol, mainly during the night, in order to protect people and properties.

    According to official data provided by the ministry of public order, robberies have increased by 22% in 1997 compared to 1996, while in the same period of time murders have increased by 32%.

    [20] PAPANDREOU: GREECE WANTS TURKEY’S ACCESSION INTO THE EU

    Greek deputy foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou in an interview with Czech journalists, reiterated the government’s position on the Greek-Turkish issues.

    Mr. Papandreou accused Ankara of undermining the stability of relations with Greece, while responding to a question on Turkey’s proposal for the solution of bilateral disputes, he underlined that this country should appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague after it accepts the court’s overall jurisdiction.

    He also said that the Turkish side presented its proposals within the framework of a publicity stunt targeting the international public opinion.

    Mr. Papandreou stated that Greece has placed the International Law at the center of its approach, concerning the solution of the differences with Turkey, and that it is ready to go to The Hague. He also said that the Greek government maintains that the only legal difference between the two countries is the continental shelf in the Aegean, adding that Greece can not accept the dialogue and the unilateral claims made by Turkey on the status quo in the Aegean.

    Referring to Turkey’s EU accession prospects, Mr. Papandreou stated that Greece wants its accession and pointed out that a common framework has been created by the EU member-states which sets the pre-conditions and terms that have to be respected by Ankara.

    [21] THE BRITISH PRESS ON DRACHMA’S INCLUSION IN THE ERM

    The British newspapers made positive comments on the Greek government decision to request the inclusion of the drachma in the European exchange rate mechanism.

    The “Financial Times” described the decision as being the result of the Greek government’s impressive success in the implementation of the program it has followed for the stabilization of the economy. The newspaper mentions that the decision opens the way for Greece to be included in the group of countries that meet the terms for participation in the single currency in the year 2001.

    The “London Times” writes that Greece won a double victory in the weekend underling that it was accepted in the exchange rate mechanism, while it also managed to lift the objections concerning the opening of Cyprus’ EU accession negotiations.

    The economic analysts believe that the participation of the drachma in the European exchange rate mechanism is a positive measure that is being imposed within the framework of the efforts for Greece’s participation in the “euro”, commented the BBC.

    [22] GREECE WELCOMES THE EU FOREIGN MINISTERS’ COUNCIL DECISION ON CYPRUS

    Acting Greek government spokesman Nikos Athanasakis welcomed the decision reached in the informal EU foreign ministers’ council meeting in Edinburg according to which, Cyprus’ EU accession negotiations will start with or without the participation of the Turkish Cypriots.

    Mr. Athanasakis called on Ankara and the Turkish Cypriots to abandon their intransigence and to participate in the process. [B] INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    [23] CYPRUS ‘ ACCESSION NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE EU TO START ON MARCH 31

    Negotiations for the accession of Cyprus to the European Union are to start as planned on March 31, even if the Turkish- Cypriots refuse to participate in the talks, according to the “15” Foreign Ministers .

    The decision to proceed with the talks was facilitated once the French government retracted its demand to “shelf” the talks if the Turkish-Cypriots did not participate.

    Greece’s Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos has expressed his satisfaction, but Rauf Denktash, the self-called leader of the Turkish-Cypriots, accused the EU of having succumbed to Athens’s “blackmail”.

    [24] TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER TO TRAVEL TO EGYPT ON FRIDAY

    Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ismael Cem is to embark on an official, three-day visit to Egypt on Friday, where he will discuss the peace process in the Middle East and bilateral relations, according to Cairo’s Turkish Embassy

    Mr. Cem will travel to Egypt on the invitation of his Egyptian counterpart Amr Musa. [25] US ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE TRAVELS TO TIRANA TODAY

    The United States assistant Secretary of State Strobe Talbot is expected in Tirana today, for a brief, one-afternoon visit.

    Mr. Talbot will meet with Albania’s Premier Fatos Nano and Foreign Minister Paschal Milo at the Tirana Airport and they will discuss the situation in Kossovo.

    [26] BELGRADE GIVES ANOTHER INVITATION TO KOSSOVO’S ALBANIANS FOR TALKS

    Belgrade has given another written invitation for dialogue to the Albanian leaders of Kossovo, who last week had refused for the second time to attend talks with the Serb government’s representatives.

    In the letter, the Serb government expresses its wish for talks without conditions, as well as its decisiveness to negotiate, through political means, all the issues that concern the exercise of human and political rights of all the citizens of Kossovo, as well as matters that concern the quicker economic and cultural development, within the framework of the Serb Republic’s constitution, the European and international models, the OSCE’s principles, and the Charters of Paris, the United Nations and the principles of the Council of Europe for the protection of ethnic minorities.

    The letter was forwarded to Ibrahim Rugova, whom it addresses as leader of the Democratic Alliance of Kossovo and not as president of the “Republic of Kossovo”. It was also forwarded to the other party leaders of Kossovo.

    [27] ALBANIAN WOMEN RALLY FROM PRISHTINA TO DRENICA

    In a sign of solidarity to the locals, approximately one thousand Albanian women from Prishtina embarked on a rally to Drenica today where, according to Albanian reports, many villages remain seized by the Serb police. . The women are holding loaves of bread and banners that read “Stop the violence”, “Drenica, we’re coming”, “We are a nation in danger” and are walking the distance of 50 kilometers.

    [28] THE UN SPECIAL ADVISER ON CYPRUS WILL HAVE A SERIES OF CONTACTS

    UN Secretary-General special adviser on Cyprus Diego Cordovez will tour Nicosia, Athens and Ankara starting tomorrow, aiming at the resumption of the talks for the solution of the Cyprus problem that were interrupted in November.

    On March 26, Mr. Cordovez will be in Geneva to brief British government special envoy to Cyprus Sir David Hanney, US envoy Thomas Miller as well as, the mediators from other countries, on the results of the talks he had in the three capitals.

    [29] KOSOVO ETHNIC ALBANIANS REJECT DIALOGUE PROPOSALS

    The representatives of the Kosovo ethnic Albanians did not respond today to the invitation of Serb authorities to begin a dialogue with the governmental delegation in Pristina.

    Apart from the Serb delegation, representatives of the turkish community of Kosovo as well as representatives of the rom who live in the area took part In today’s talks. The meeting concentrated on the eventuality of future contacts so as to examine the Kosovo problems.

    The Albanians’ representatives refused to attend the meeting, as they did twice before, because they consider the problem as a very complicated one which, therefore, needs international mediation to be solved.


    Complete archives of the Macedonian Press Agency bulletins are available on the MPA Home Page at http://www.mpa.gr/ and on the U.S. mirror at http://www.hri.org/MPA/

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