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A.N.A. Bulletin 27/3/95

From: "Greek Press Office BBS, Ottawa" <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN, March 27, 1995


Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Weapons cache near Athens may be related to Albanian guardhouse raid

  • [2] Independence Day celebrated throughout Greece

  • [3] Papoulias: FYROM needs goods relations with Greece

  • [4] Farmers' blockade still disrupting national traffic

  • [5] Berisha cites improvement in Greek-Albanian relations

  • [6] Papantoniou criticises Evert for tax law stance

  • [7] PASOK executive bureau deplores Turkish military operation in Iraq

  • [8] Lawmakers to begin German trip

  • [9] PASOK executive bureau optimistic on constitutional revision


  • [1] Weapons cache near Athens may be related to Albanian guardhouse raid

    Athens, 27/03/1995 (ANA):

    Public Order Minister Stelios Papathemelis said Saturday it was "highly likely" that weapons found during a police raid in a community outside Athens were "related" to those stolen during an attack last year on an Albanian guardhouse.

    Responsibility for the attack on the guardhouse at Episkopi, near Gyrokastr last April was claimed by the Liberation Front of Northern Epirus (MAVI). Two Albanian soldiers were killed and a number of weapons stolen.

    Although the police have not yet issued a statement, informed sources said anti-terrorist units on Friday raided a house in Pallini, 15 kilometres north of Athens and found seven AK-47 (Kalashnikov) assault rifles.

    According to the sources, two men were arrested during the raid-- the owner of the house, Dr. Andreas Kakavesis, 67, and his nephew, 32-year-old Angelos Kakavesis. According to sources, both men were close friends of the owner of a clothing store in the Athens square of Kolonaki, which police searched following the arrest last week of seven men in Delvinaki, near the border with Albania.

    Indications point to the seven men being members of MAVI, although all seven have denied any involvement in the organisation's activities. Weapons discovered in two vehicles the seven suspects were riding in when arrested by Greek police are believed to be similar to those stolen from the Albanian guardhouse.

    Speaking in Thessaloniki on Saturday, Mr. Papathemelis said the two men arrested in Pallini were "connected" with MAVI and were due to appear before a public prosecutor later in the day. "Yesterday (on Friday) morning, police found seven weapons in the yard of a house in Pallini, Attica and arrested two men," he said.

    According to police, the relationship between the weapons and Episkopi is very likely. "I am being very careful with the words I use. The relationship between the seven weapons found and Episkopi is highly likely," Mr. Papathemelis said.

    Replying to reporters' questions on the Pallini arrests in Thessaloniki Saturday, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias said that "these people must realise that they are causing harm to Greece, their country."

    Mr. Papoulias also expressed satisfaction over the recent improvement in Greek-Albanian relations, saying his visit to Tirana last week would soon bring "good results." "We already have the first signs. The arrival (in Greece) of Archbishop Anastasios (after being granted a visa by the Albanian authorities). The joint co-ordinating committee will soon meet and set up subcommittees (to examine) the issues. Relations have entered a good path," Mr. Papoulias said.

    The two Pallini suspects will appear before an investigating magistrate today on charges of illegal possession of arms. According to the police, the seven rifles were allegedly buried at the farm house last year by George Anastasoulis, one of the seven men arrested in Delvinaki near the Greek-Albanian border last weekend.

    The police are investigating whether the seven men are members of the Liberation Front of Northern Epirus (MAVI) which has claimed responsibility for the Episkopi attack. Mr. Papathemelis said that the two men arrested in Pallini were "connected" with MAVI. Police later carried out a search of Mr. Kokavesis' house in the Athens suburb of Aghioi Anargyroi where they found military fatigues and masks.

    In a related development, press sources said yesterday that police had found a Kalashnikov rifle and ammunition near the Kesariani cemetery in Athens. Police have not yet issued any statement on the matter.

    Meanwhile, the authorities in Ioannina, northern Greece have begun deportation procedures against Apostolos Bolianos, 25, from northern Epirus whose residence permit has expired. According to the police, Bolianos recently travelled from Athens to Ioannina to visit his first cousin, George Christos, one of the seven men arrested at Delvinaki.

    [2] Independence Day celebrated throughout Greece

    Athens, 27/03/1995 (ANA):

    The 174th anniversary of the Greek Revolution in 1821 against Ottoman rule was celebrated Saturday all over the country as well as in Greek expatriate communities and in Cyprus. The culmination of the events was a large military parade held in downtown Athens with President Kostis Stephanopoulos taking the salute in front of the Athens Academy.

    An official te deum service was also held in Thessaloniki where Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias represented the government. Also present in Thessaloniki were Public Order Minister Stelios Papathemelis, Press and Media Minister Evangelos Venizelos, deputies of the Thessaloniki prefecture and Thessaloniki Mayor Kostas Kosmopoulos. Mr. Papoulias afterwards laid a wreath at the memorial of the Third Army, while a parade followed with the participation of the armed forces, students, schoolchildren and various organisations.

    After the parade in Athens, President Stephanopoulos congratulated the senior organising officer and representatives of handicapped war veterans. "The present day is a paramount commitment. The fatherland is composed of ourselves and does not only offer us rights and the right to contest them. It also imposes social commitments on us and it is very useful for all of us to remember this at present. These days should not go by as ordinary ones. Relying on historical memory, every one of us should reach his own conclusions and his own admissions," President Stephanopoulos said afterwards.

    Earlier he had laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Parliament building. Just after 10 a.m. a te deum service was held at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, where Archbishop of Athens and all Greece Serapheim officiated. The service was also attended by Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, leaders of all the political parties represented in Parliament, ministers, under-secretaries, leaders of the armed and security forces, diplomats, academics, other officials and a large crowd of people.

    Commenting on the military parade, President Stephanopoulos said: "At a time of intense conflicts all over the world and particularly in our region, the armed forces should live up to the needs of the present crucial situations and constitute a sure guarantee for the security of our country and safeguard peace in our region."

    The newly elected president said the Greek people, who were experiencing economic sacrifices, were justified in trusting, loving and cherishing the nation's armed youth, which enable the Greek people to devote themselves to works of peace and progress.

    "For the Greek people to secure an equal participation in an economically and politically united Europe, great efforts must be made and completed primarily in the economic field. This means unavoidable painful sacrifices," President Stephanopoulos said in his Independence Day message. "It is the price that has to be paid," he added.

    President Stephanopoulos said Greeks should act with awareness of what was beneficial and what harmful for the country, have a patriotic conscience and brush aside all other pursuits before the need to satisfy the national interest and serve the general good. "...We must not let opportunities offered to us go by and we must show a sincere disposition to co-operate on issues uniting us," he added.

    In a similar message, Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou said "safeguarding our independence now and always and protecting our just national causes is a continuous struggle. "Greece is a factor of stability and peace in the region. It is simultaneously a factor of economic co-operation and development, with steadfast steps, on the difficult path to European integration," he added.

    Mr. Papandreou said in this context his government would continue to defend the just causes of Hellenism, the interests of Greece and promote the resolution of our national issues, shaping conditions for peace and progress in the entire region.

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said "apart from serious domestic difficulties, our country is faced with direct threats, dangers and complicated problems on almost its entire external front."

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert criticised Turkey for continuing to occupy almost half of Cyprus, tangibly questioning the status of Greek rights and jurisdictions in the Aegean and even attempting involvement inside the Greek state by creating issues in western Thrace. "We are called upon to provide a united, dynamic and effective reply to domestic adversities and outside threats. Mobilising all our strength and potential, regaining national virtues and our vigour and resolution," he said.

    Political Spring (Pol.An) party leader Antonis Samaras said the holiday should constitute a lighthouse for a new militant course for the country's just causes, adding that Greece should confront economic and social difficulties and instability in the Balkans with national resolution and unity.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said Greece and the Greek people were confronted with new bonds of dependence by the colonialist mandates of the European Union and Nato's multinational division, which it said is preparing new interventions in the Mediterranean region and cultural subjugation. "The present day concept of the struggle for national independence lies with our country's disengagement from the policy of imperialist circles in the United States, NATO and the European Union," KKE said in its message.

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) said Greece had the possibility and the forces to stop the downward course of decades and open new paths for its future, adding that the country was currently experiencing a profound crisis, trapped by deadlocks in its national issues and faced with the tragic state of the national economy. The Coalition urged a change in policy towards production, reorganisation and the creation of a foreign policy council for a successful course for national issues.

    National Defence Minister Gerasimos Arsenis said the thoughts of every Greek turned to the martyred island of Cyprus. He said Greece wanted to contribute decisively to the consolidation of a peaceful development course in Europe and was trying to consolidate peace and co-operation in the Balkans.

    Meanwhile, the Greek embassy in Tirana hosted a successful reception on the national anniversary last Friday at the international cultural centre. The reception was attended by approximately 600 guests, including nine ministers, five under-secretaries, the parliament president and deputy president and 60 deputies (Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi and Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi were absent abroad). The event was given coverage by Albanian TV, which interviewed the Greek ambassador.

    [3] Papoulias: FYROM needs goods relations with Greece

    Athens, 27/033/1995 (ANA):

    Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias warned Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) President Kiro Gligorov that the future of his state was "doubtful" if it did not have good relations with Greece.

    Asked whether he thought the FYROM leadership was ready to sit at the negotiating table, Mr. Papoulias said: "Greece's positions are known and we stand by them. Mr. Gligorov must realise that the improvement of relations with Greece is not only in the interests of the region in general but also of his own future. Because without good relations with Greece his future is very doubtful. We shall wait." Mr. Papoulias was speaking Saturday in Thessaloniki where he attended Independence Day celebrations in the northern Greek capital.

    Commenting on the ongoing Turkish military operation against the Kurds in northern Iraq, Mr. Papoulias said: "As a member of the European Union, Greece has discussed its positions with representatives of the other member states. It is not only the genocide being perpetrated against the Kurds, but the major problem in Turkey at the present time. The EU must speak without mincing its words and also show Turkey with deeds that its effort to build closer ties to the EU in such a manner is unacceptable."

    On his forthcoming visit to Sofia, Mr. Papoulias said Greek-Bulgarian relations were at "a very good level." "I will be going to Sofia with good omens. We have certain outstanding issues which I am convinced will be resolved. I believe that the political will and desire of the two (foreign) ministries is that these outstanding issues, I would not say problems, be settled," Papoulias added.

    [4] Farmers' blockade still disrupting national traffic

    Athens, 27/03/1995 (ANA):

    Farmers from Lokrida continued to block the main highway linking Athens and the northern port city of Thessaloniki at Livanates, despite snow and hail in the central Greek prefecture of Fthiotida.

    Farmers are protesting a new tax law which calculates income tax of non-salaried workers on the basis of "objective criteria" rather than declared income. They are also pressing a number of demands related to low crop prices, the absorption of agricultural produce and subsidies for fuel.

    Protesting farmers pledged to maintain the week-long blockade of Greece's main road and railways and asked to meet Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou to discuss demands for lower taxes and higher produce prices. Farmers want a 30 per cent price raise for their products and along with shopkeepers have led a revolt against a new tax law by blocking roads, closing shops and occupying public offices and banks.

    The week-long protests have caused widespread disruption to the national and secondary road network, particularly in central and northern Greece where farmers have blocked highways and junctions with tractors and other farm machinery. Thousands of cars and trucks have been stranded on the highway, forming lines stretching for many kilometres, while frustrated truck drivers said their stranded cargo -- some 60,000 tons of meat and vegetables -- was ruined.

    "I've been here for the past five days without being able to wash or rest and the tomatoes in my truck are now worthless," said Antonis Fillis. "If this goes on, then we will be forced to clash with the farmers in order to get through." There have been no reports of major violence, as police formed a barrier between the farmers and truckers. The traffic problems on Friday were exacerbated by heavy snowfall in parts of central Greece, which caused problems on secondary roads being used by motorists to bypass the farmers' blockades.

    In another development, merchants, claiming the laws will increase their taxes six-fold, have closed their shops in many Greek cities in the past three weeks. A nation-wide strike by shop owners has been called for Wednesday.

    Meanwhile, for the second consecutive day, farmers blocked the rail line at the Thiva railway station. Trains are now running only between Lianokladi near Lamia and Thessaloniki. National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said the government would try "through persuasion" to put an end to the farmers' mobilisations.

    Speaking to reporters at an unscheduled press conference, Mr. Papantoniou said the government has shown its interest in the problems faced by the Greek people and was working to resolve them "with consensus." "The mobilisations do not have the backing of the majority of farmers but on only a very small minority. So it is up to the government to point out to this minority that they are adopting the wrong tactic," Mr. Papantoniou said.

    He defended statements by Agriculture Minister George Moraitis who added: "we cannot overturn the GATT agreement" in response to the demand of farmers' unions that Greece be exempted from the accord. "There is no other path and no alternative solution for the government's economic achievements to be consolidated," Mr. Papantoniou said.

    Mr. Papantoniou also accused main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert of undermining the government's efforts to revive the Greek economy in order to attain "petty party targets." Mr. Evert said the new taxation measure led to economic recession and rising unemployment and reflected the government's inability to stamp out tax evasion.

    "Having been unable to drag the country to national elections using the presidential elections, torpedoing efforts for development, they are now using another undermining method," Mr. Papantoniou said. "Statements made by the ND leader reveals the true instigators of the opposition against the implementation of the tax law and the government's economic policy," he added.

    Both Mr. Evert and Political Spring President Antonis Samaras yesterday called on the government to immediately begin a dialogue with the farmers. Mr. Evert rejected accusations by the government that his party was behind the farmers' mobilisations. "We are neither in front nor behind the farmers. But we are most certainly at their side," Mr. Evert said. Mr. Samaras urged the government to accept his party's proposal for a parliamentary debate on the farmers' demands.

    [5] Berisha cites improvement in Greek-Albanian relations

    Tirana, Albania 27/03/1995 (ANA):

    Albanian President Sali Berisha spoke of an improvement of Greek-Albania relations, the satisfaction of his government after the arrest of seven suspects at Delfinaki, as well as optimism for the legalisation of seasonal work by Albanians in Greece, during a press conference Friday on the occasion of the third anniversary of his Democratic party coming to power.

    "Greek-Albanian relations are definitely improving," Mr. Berisha said and expressing confidence that there are great possibilities for friendship and co-operation with Greece. "Regardless of groups of troublemakers and nationalists whose aim is to create incidents, I can see certain prospects of friendship and co-operation between the two countries, because there is a historical relationship between them," the Albanian President said.

    [6] Papantoniou criticises Evert for tax law stance

    Athens, 27/03/1995 (ANA):

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou Friday criticised main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert of undermining the economy for petty party aims. "At a time when the Greek economy is starting to exit from the morass and is walking toward a development course at a speedy pace, which is ascertained by all both inside and outside Greece, the opposition is proceeding to undermine this effort for specific petty party aims," Mr. Papantoniou said.

    He said a statement by Mr. Evert on Thursday revealed the real agitators of reactions against the implementation of a new tax law and the government's economic policy. "Backed by the remaining opposition, Mr. Evert is pretending to be ignorant of these truths and is attacking the sole policy capable of achieving a positive developmental prospect. He is accountable to the people for this undermining tactic," Mr. Papantoniou added.

    [7] PASOK executive bureau deplores Turkish military operation in Iraq

    Athens, 27/03/1995 (ANA):

    The ruling socialist PASOK party's executive bureau denounced Turkey' military operation against the Kurds of northern Iraq, in a statement yesterday. In addition, PASOK Secretary Akis Tsohatzopoulos called on the European Socialist Party (ESP) to undertake initiatives on the matter.

    The announcement said the Turkish invasion in northern Iraq under international protection constituted a violation of international rules and created conditions of destabilisation and instability in the wider area. Turkey, it said, instead of continuing a policy of violence against non-combatant populations of the ancient and martyred Kurdish people, should pull out its troops from the region immediately.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos addressed letters to the ESP president and Secretary-General, the president of the ESP group in the European Parliament and the president and Secretary-General of the socialist international, calling on them to raise the Kurdish issue with relevant agencies.

    [8] Lawmakers to begin German trip

    Athens, 27/03/1995 (ANA):

    The secretary of PASOK's central committee, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, will lead a team of Greek parliament representatives of all parties on a five-day visit to Bonn beginning today. The group was invited by the German parliament to meet with several departments of the German government as well as representatives of all German political parties and several high-ranking editors of major German newspapers.

    [9] PASOK executive bureau optimistic on constitutional revision

    Athens, 27/03/1995 (ANA):

    After meeting yesterday, the ruling PASOK party's executive bureau issued an announcement expressing its conviction that through a "spirit of national understanding and co-operation," conditions of consensus would be created allowing for the biggest possible majority to facilitate the revision of the constitution to become certain in the new parliament.

    The executive bureau said the prime minister's paramount political initiative for the revision of the constitution entered the phase of immediate implementation and referred to the political orientation of the amendments, which were strengthening and safeguarding the substantive independence of powers, the substantive upgrading of parliamentary and representative institutions and the widening of a state of justice and a welfare state.

    Referring to reports in Thursday's discussion at the executive bureau on the amendment of the constitution and the bill on the mass media, government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos said Friday that the reports were evidently due to misinformation, according to what PASOK Secretary Akis Tsohatzopoulos told him.

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