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A.N.A. Bulletin 31/3/95

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

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN, March 31, 1995


Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Papoulias in Sofia discusses joint initiatives for peace in Balkans

  • [2] Parliament votes to sell Skaramangas, Geitonas slightly injured by protesting workers

  • [3] Letter from allies bad diplomacy, Arsenis says

  • [4] Arsenis to speak at WEU in first Greek address since becoming member

  • [5] Berisha: Papoulias visit proof positive of desire for better relations

  • [6] Greek, Albanian officials deny press reports of border incident

  • [7] Anastasios hospitalised for respiratory infection

  • [8] Evert meets with Santer on range of issues

  • [9] Clinton praises Greek 'statesman-like policies'

  • [10] Avramopoulos meets with premier

  • [11] Farmers block Thessaloniki airport

  • [12] Valyrakis takes over at Public Order Ministry


  • [1] Papoulias in Sofia discusses joint initiatives for peace in Balkans

    Sofia, 31/03/1995 (ANA):

    Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and his Bulgarian counterpart Gueorgui Pirinski yesterday discussed bilateral relations, the situation in the Balkans, coinciding views on the crisis in former Yugoslavia and joint initiatives Athens and Sofia could take to find a solution to the Yugoslav issue.

    Speaking to reporters afterwards on the agenda of talks at the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, Mr. Papoulias said "a good day is obvious in the morning", adding that "tomorrow's talks will also be good."

    He said that the issues of the waters of the River Nestos, the oil pipeline from Russia -- which will pass through Bulgarian territory --and tolls would be discussed during his talks tomorrow.

    When pressed to disclose whether an agreement on any of these issues was close, he said "we will talk about this tomorrow." Mr. Papoulias said the dialogue on bilateral issues was "extremely sincere and productive", adding that "it was agreed that the two foreign ministries will have continuous consultations and co-operation to promote what has been discussed."

    In a statement, Mr. Pirinski placed particular emphasis on common and co-ordinated efforts both for the resolution of the Yugoslav issue and the quickest possible lifting of sanctions against Belgrade. "There are no problems in bilateral relations, but open issues which require work," Mr. Pirinski said, adding that both governments ascertained goodwill for the creation of a steadfast and promising basis for bilateral relations.

    Mr. Pirinski said the two governments had much to do to reach the level of economic and business relations constituting good preparation for the forthcoming Intergovernmental Economic Co-operation Committee, to be held in Athens. On the issue of tolls, Mr. Pirinski "ascertained readiness on Mr. Papoulias' part to proceed with resolving the issue without special obstacles and prejudices."

    Replying to a question by a Bulgarian journalist, Mr. Pirinski said he raised the issue of further facilities for entrance visas to Greece and that "I found full understanding in that favourable conditions available for Greek businessmen in Sofia should also be available for Bulgarian companies in Greece."

    Mr. Papoulias visited Bulgarian Patriarch Maximos late in the afternoon and in the evening he attended a dinner Mr. Pirinski gave in his honour. Talks will continue at the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry this morning and afterwards Mr. Papoulias will visit the Bulgarian Parliament. He will hold consecutive meetings with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev and Prime Minister Jan Videnov in the afternoon.

    Before the departure of the Greek delegation, Mr. Papoulias and Mr. Pirinski will give a joint press conference. In statements shortly before departing to Sofia, Mr. Papoulias described Greek-Bulgarian relations as "very good", adding that future prospects were excellent in all sectors. Greek-Bulgarian relations, Mr. Papoulias said, constitute a solid basis for the Balkans and the wider region.

    [2] Parliament votes to sell Skaramangas, Geitonas slightly injured by protesting workers

    Athens, 31/03/1995 (ANA):

    The sale of the Hellenic shipyards at Skaramangas was ratified by Parliament yesterday despite rowdy protests by workers outside the building in which a minister was slightly injured. After the vote, representatives of the shipyard workers said that they would fight to annul the bill. The draft law was passed with the votes of 113 ruling PASOK party deputies in favour and 50 members of the opposition New Democracy, Political Spring and Communist Party of Greece parties against.

    Alternate Public Works Minister Costas Geitonas was slightly injured by protesting shipyard workers as he tried to enter parliament. Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis and Environment Under-Secretary Elizabeth Papazoi were also jostled by the crowd. House President Apostolos Kaklamanis denounced the jeering saying "it is aimed against the institution of parliament and not against persons."

    Ruling PASOK party parliamentary spokesman Ioannis Haralambous condemned the incident and requested that "necessary measures be taken." Main opposition New Democracy party parliamentary spokesman Theodoros Anagnostopoulos and Communist Party of Greece parliamentary spokesman Gerasimos Aravanis both condemned the incidents "as well as all acts of violence against parliamentarians."

    The Political Spring party issued an announcement requesting the government withdraw the bill and table another which would contain the writing off of the shipyards debts, the transference of 49 per cent of the stocks to the employees or other private citizens, and the appointing of an inter-party management to take over for a mandate of five years.

    Political Spring parliamentary spokesman Notis Martakis denounced the incidents outside the parliament and recommended cool-headness and dialogue by all parties involved. Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos denounced the privatisation of the shipyards.

    [3] Letter from allies bad diplomacy, Arsenis says

    Athens, 31/03/1995 (ANA):

    National Defence Minister Gerasimos Arsenis yesterday described as "unacceptable" a letter from four NATO allies on Greece's relations with Turkey. "(It is) an unacceptable document written in bad diplomatic language, which ignores not only NATO decisions but also technical issues and places Greece and Turkey on an equal footing," Mr. Arsenis said.

    He was referring to a letter sent to both the Greek and Turkish governments from the United States, Britain, Italy and Germany concerning Greek-Turkish relations. The letter calls on Athens and Ankara to resolve outstanding differences but in a manner which encroaches on Greece's areas of responsibility which have been recognised by NATO.

    Mr. Arsenis and Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday summoned the Germany's ambassador to Athens and strongly protested the content of the letter. Mr. Arsenis reiterated yesterday that the outstanding issues between Athens and Ankara were due to Nato's inability to implement unanimous decisions because of obstacles raised by Turkey "on which pressure should be brought to bear."

    Government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos also termed as "unacceptable" a protest letter by the four states urging Athens to resolve its differences with Turkey. Mr. Venizelos said the German envoy to Athens had been summoned by the Greek ministers of foreign affairs and defence. "They told him that the letter was unacceptable," Mr. Venizelos said.

    [4] Arsenis to speak at WEU in first Greek address since becoming member

    Athens, 31/03/1995 (ANA):

    National Defence Minister Gerasimos Arsenis leaves Monday for Brussels to address a Western European Union (WEU) meeting on the subject of the security system in Europe, with emphasis on the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans.

    Mr. Arsenis will be the first Greek minister to address the WEU plenary since Greece became a full member of the organisation. WEU Secretary-General Jose Cutileiro is due to visit Athens on April 5-6.

    In another development yesterday Mr. Arsenis said Greece would assist in any operation of UN troops withdrawing from Bosnia.

    [5] Berisha: Papoulias visit proof positive of desire for better relations

    Tirana, 31/03/1995 (ANA/Albanian News Agency):

    Albanian President Sali Berisha yesterday expressed satisfaction over Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias' recent fence-building visit to Tirana, saying it proved that there was a common desire to improve relations and "make up for lost ground."

    Mr. Berisha was speaking to Athens News Agency (ANA) General Director Andreas Christodoulides who is visiting Albania at the invitation of his Albanian News Agency (ATA) counterpart Ilir Zila.

    According to an ATA despatch from Tirana, Mr. Berisha told Mr. Christodoulides that the two countries had taken "encouraging" steps and that possibilities now existed for "friendship, good neighbourly relations and co-operation for the common benefit of both peoples."

    In a clear reference to the recent arrest of seven armed men at Delvinaki near the border with Albanian, Mr. Berisha said: "Politicians, particularly in the Balkans, must have the courage to oppose those who threaten the climate of mutual understanding and the future." Police are investigating whether the seven are connected with the Liberation Front of Northern Epirus (MAVI).

    Mr. Berisha thanked the Greek government and people for the assistance and hospitality they had extended to Albanians working in Greece, underlining that "such acts strengthen the historical ties between the two countries."

    "Let us add another brick to the edifice of co-operation between our two countries," Mr. Christodoulides replied, "and let us strengthen the relations between ATA and ANA." During his meeting with Mr. Zila, Mr. Christodoulides signed an agreement providing for the direct exchange of information between the two news agencies. They also agreed to make use of European Union aid for the technical development of both news agencies in the framework of INTERREG or cross-border programmes.

    [6] Greek, Albanian officials deny press reports of border incident

    Athens, 31/03/1995 (ANA):

    National Defence General Staff and Army General Staff sources yesterday categorically denied a report in an Albanian newspaper claiming that Greek border guards had fired on a group of Albanian illegal immigrants, killing one and injuring another.

    The report in the Albanian Koha Yona newspaper claimed the incident took place on Monday 15 kilometres inside Greece, and claimed that a man, identified as Aristid Troska, 37, died in the incident. Reuters quoted an Albanian Interior Ministry spokesman as saying that he had no knowledge of the shooting.

    [7] Anastasios hospitalised for respiratory infection

    Athens, 31/03/1995 (ANA):

    Archbishop of Tirana and all Albania Anastasios was transferred to Evangelismos hospital yesterday for treatment of serious respiratory problems. The archbishop's doctor said Anastasios suffered from asthma and had had respiratory problems over the past few days due to an infection. He said the archbishop's condition was stabilising and that he should be much better in a few days.

    [8] Evert meets with Santer on range of issues

    Brussels, 31/03/1995 (ANA - F. Stangos):

    New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert met with European Commission president Jacques Santer yesterday and discussed issues of European and Greek interest, including the situation in the Balkans, the prospects for Cypriot full membership of the 15-member bloc and Turkey's customs union with the EU.

    Briefing reporters afterwards, he stressed the need for a common European defence and external policy and expressed the view that "Europe is moving in the right direction, which is compatible with (Greek) national interests".

    Referring to the Commission's decision to give the green light to Greece for the construction of the new airport at Spata by waiving down procedural objections to the selection of the German Hochtief group as the successful bidder, he said that Mr. Santer's stand on the matter had been decisive.

    Meanwhile, New Democracy Vice-President Ioannis Varvitsiotis, speaking to the working group of the European People's Party inter-parliamentary conference on the Common Policy for External Affairs and Political Security, said "the primary task of the European Union is to secure the territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of any member state against any threat, without exception".

    "We must," he added, "in exchange for the limitation of the principle of unanimity in the adoption of decisions, grant member states the absolute guarantee that the rule of solidarity will be subject to automatic implementation in their benefit in case they suffered an armed attack". Finally, he expressed the view that the Western European Union, whose treaty expires in 1998, will be absorbed into the structures of the European Union.

    [9] Clinton praises Greek 'statesman-like policies'

    Washington, 31/03/1995 (ANA - D. Dimas):

    US President Bill Clinton praised Greece for its "statesmanlike policies" in normalising relations with Albania in his address marking Greece's national holiday of March 25.

    A White House announcement released yesterday said: "The President noted that Greece and the United States has faced a number of challenges together. We now face another great challenge. The collapse of communism has created great opportunities, but has also unleashed ancient ethnic and national animosities. Greece's statesmanlike policies to normalise relations with Albania and strengthen ties between Turkey and the West will pay great dividends in greater stability and prosperity in the region.

    "The President emphasised that it is essential for the US and Greece to build on the progress already made. The United States has been active in attempting to resolve the Cyprus matter and the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The President underscored his commitment to continuing those efforts and encouraged the Greek-American community to continue to play a constructive role."

    [10] Avramopoulos meets with premier

    Athens, 31/03/1995 (ANA):

    Athens Mayor and Central Union of Municipalities and Communities President Dimitris Avramopoulos paid Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou a courtesy call at his office yesterday.

    "We discussed institutional issues concerning local administration and Mr. Papandreou promised to have a complete memorandum on projects we are going to complete in Athens. We discussed the Spata airport and yesterday's results in Brussels. The Athens municipality expressed its satisfaction because Athens will at last have an airport worthy of the Greek capital's role," Mr. Avramopoulos told reporters afterwards.

    Replying to questioners on whether he had called on the prime minister to provide the 40 billion drachmas Mr. Papandreou had promised opposing mayoral candidate Theodoros Pangalos before last October's municipal elections, Mr. Avramopoulos said "I am certain Athens will receive economic support from the prime minister."

    Mr. Avramopoulos made the following statement when asked whether he would provide a specific location for protests and demonstrations in Athens: "What I said yesterday during a Municipal Council meeting is that it is high time spaces are specified for various groups to manifest their claims. It is an initial position and I called on my colleagues in the Municipal Council to discuss it at a forthcoming meeting. We must make it clear once and for all. Downtown Athens cannot be blocked on a daily basis for any reason."

    "We realise the importance of being able to put forward our claims and rights freely but this should be done in a way that does not paralyse the centre of Athens. We do not have to set out our own ideas. We must do what is done in all the civilised and democratic countries in the world. Nothing more or less than this," he added.

    [11] Farmers block Thessaloniki airport

    Athens, 31/03/1995 (ANA):

    The ongoing mobilisations by farmers protesting a new tax law and in support of other demands took a new turn yesterday as tractors blocked off all access to Thessaloniki's international airport. Extending an 11-day blockade, farmers parked about 70 tractors on the two main roads leading to the airport.

    Since the farmers severed all main north-south road and rail links between Athens and Thessaloniki, Olympic Airways flights have been packed to capacity as the only way to commute. Police said passengers could still use side-roads to get to the airport, and flights were continuing, but airport operations were being badly disrupted and could be stopped at any time. The farmers' lines were also extended in western Greece, with barricades being thrown up around the agricultural town of Agrinion.

    Near the capital, farmers seized a national highway toll station at Kiourka, less than 30 kms from the city centre and vowed to press on with their campaign. Meanwhile, most blockades by farmers on the main Athens-Thessaloniki highway in the prefecture of Larissa, central Greece, remained in place yesterday. Farmers in western Greece also continued to block the Antirrio-Ioannina and Pyrgos-Patras highways.

    Government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos later denied reports that riot police were preparing to intervene and put an end to the protest. "There is no issue of riot police intervening (to end the protest)," Mr. Venizelos said. He conceded however that the government was taking measures to prevent farmers from blocking crucial road and air links and that the revolt could not be tolerated much longer.

    Late last night Supreme Court Prosecutor Athanasios Sioulas said it would call on prosecutors in the affected regions to file suits against farmers for impeding transport. The ongoing mobilisations have dealt a serious blow to the economy and enormous amounts of perishable produce has rotted. Exports have also been disrupted and the Northern Greece Exporters Association called for an immediate solution to the problem which it described as "a dispute between the government and the farmers." Thousands of foreign and Greek lorries have been trapped in blockades which now stretch from Athens to east of Thessaloniki.

    [12] Valyrakis takes over at Public Order Ministry

    Athens, 31/03/1995 (ANA):

    Stelios Papathemelis yesterday officially handed over the Public Order Ministry to his successor, Sifis Valyrakis, following his resignation Wednesday at the request of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou.

    Prior to his new appointment yesterday, Mr. Valyrakis was Under-Secretary at the ministry. Mr. Papathemelis declined to elaborate further on the reasons for his resignation at yesterday's handing over ceremony, saying he would not speak "unless provoked."

    In his letter of resignation, Mr. Papathemelis said he had resigned solely because of his disagreement over the use of force against farmers blocking motorways in central Greece. But government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos said the reason was "precisely because allegations such as those contained in Mr. Papathemelis' letter were being continually repeated," adding that the allegations were unfounded.

    Meanwhile, replying to accusations by Mr. Papathemelis that he was "a professional liar", Mr. Venizelos said that "when the government spokesman makes statements concerning the resignation of a minister, he is acting on the instructions of the prime minister. I hope that Mr. Papathemelis would not wish to imply that the premier is a professional liar."

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