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A.N.A. Bulletin, 21/02/96

From: "Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada" <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 819), February 21, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] British foreign secretary meets with premier, Pangalos

  • [2] Doctors hope Papandreou may be discharged soon

  • [3] Gov't to speed up EU fund absorption

  • [4] Unlimited support for Greece over Imia issue, Paris says

  • [5] Bonn looks for better bilateral relations with Simitis visit

  • [6] Australian FM suggests Greece seek recourse at The Hague

  • [7] International court judge says Turkish claims 'theoretical'

  • [8] Parliamentary delegation leaves on briefing mission

  • [9] Papazoi attends OECD environment meeting

  • [10] Geitonas to visit Sofia today

  • [11] Albanian justice minister to discuss prisoners issue with Venizelos today

  • [12] Canada to view Greek bulletproof vests

  • [13] Premier confirms Greece, Cyprus have a common course

  • [14] Foreign ministry receives Cypriot document

  • [15] Evert in Cyprus today

  • [16] Greek political figures in Cyprus to discuss human rights aspect

  • [17] President praises military during tour of Ioannina

  • [18] Farmers' protests continue

  • [19] DEH workers decide strike action

  • [20] Pensioners dissatisfied with latest increases

  • [21] Farmakis

  • [22] Greek products go on show in FYROM this weekend

  • [23] Commercial Bank to train Romanian bank executives

  • [24] Ancient amphora found


  • [1] British foreign secretary meets with premier, Pangalos

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    Visiting British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind met with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos last night at the premier's office in Maximos Mansion for talks that also touched on Greece's relations with neighboring countries.

    Asked after the meeting if he still believed that direct dialogue between Athens and Ankara was needed to solve the issue arising recently over the Imia islets, Mr. Rifkind departed slightly from his statements last week after meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Deniz Baykal, saying "two different issues exist, which we need to separate".

    He said that, in discussing the spectrum of Greek-Turkish relations which, he said, have been thorny for years, dialogue is always beneficial when both sides discuss their positions and views.

    "This procedure (dialogue) is in itself constructive," he said.

    The foreign secretary emphasized that direct talks are the only way the two nations can achieve a harmonic relationship, adding, however, that particular differences exist and both countries must decide on the best way to resolve them.

    Mr. Rifkind stressed he has the greatest respect for every country's sovereign rights and that the United Kingdom placed great importance on national sovereignty, and expects other countries to show equal respect.

    He added that the UK understood why Greece rightly considered its territorial sovereign rights to be a matter on which it must take a very strong stand. He said that this was perfectly understandable, and noted that the United Kingdom had done the same in the past.

    Referring to the Cyprus problem, the British foreign secretary added that anything that could help solve this particular issue would not only be desirable, but would make negotiations for Cyprus' entry into the European Union much easier.

    Both Mr. Rifkind and Mr. Pangalos expressed satisfaction on their co-operation, which they noted dates back to when Mr. Rifkind was Britain's secretary for European affairs. Other topics covered during the meeting included European issues, the forthcoming inter-governmental conference, the situation in the region as well as bilateral co-operation in the field of investments and commerce.

    [2] Doctors hope Papandreou may be discharged soon

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    Doctors treating ruling PASOK party president Andreas Papandreou estimate that he might be able to leave the Onassion Hospital during the first week of March, without however committing themselves officially. A medical bulletin issued by the hospital yesterday said that the condition of the former premier's health was developing "normally" and that he was continuing to undergo breathing and movement therapy.

    [3] Gov't to speed up EU fund absorption

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    The rate of absorption of EU funds was the main topic at yesterday's Inner Cabinet meeting.

    The government yesterday acknowledged that there had been delays in the absorption of European Union funds under the Delors Package II but said that the difficulties could be overcome.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas attributed the delay during the last two years to the Regional Development Plan submitted by the previous New Democracy government, Mr. Reppas said that the plan was "contrary to basic EU rules."

    "This is why the regional development plan had to be redrafted and the entire first half of 1994 was spent on this," the spokesman said.

    Despite this, Mr. Reppas continued, a total of 831 billion drachmas was absorbed in the two-year period 1994-95, compared to the target of 1,063 billion drachmas.

    The spokesman said that the government had drawn up a plan to secure the absorption, during the next four years, of EU funds which were not absorbed in previous years. The plan provides for the absorption each year of one quarter of the funds hitherto not absorbed.

    The meeting yesterday also decided changes in state-run organizations.

    Mr. Reppas said Commercial Bank Governor Panayiotis Poulis would be replaced by Costas Georgoutsakos, president of the Capital Market Commission.

    Mr. Reppas said this change concluded leadership changes in banks.

    Professor Dimitris Papoulias was appointed president of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) in the place of professor Stergios Bambanasis but Mr. Reppas said Petros Lambrou would remain the organization's managing consultant.

    Professor Christos Papageorgiou was appointed at the Greek Railways Organization (OSE) in the place of George Petsos who resigned. Antonis Kourtis, a journalist and president of the Journalists Union of Macedonia and Thrace, was appointed President of t he Thessaloniki International Fair.

    [4] Unlimited support for Greece over Imia issue, Paris says

    Paris, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    Shortly before Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis' visit to Paris, Bonn and Brussels to brief European partners on Greek-Turkish relations, French foreign ministry spokesman Jacques Rummelhardt said that Greece can rely on the solidarity of the European Community on the matter of the Imia islet.

    In response to press questions, he said Greece has unlimited European Union support on the issue. "Each country counts on the solidarity of its partners," he said.

    Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, French foreign ministry assistant spokesman Yves Doutriaux said Europe could be useful in proposing to help towards a dialogue between the two sides, since the issue was a legal problem.

    Replying to a questioner on Turkey disputing the law, he said that "if they ask for our contribution as Europe, it will be to promote and facilitate the restoration of dialogue and seek out the law. But at this stage we cannot go into details, particularly on the legal aspects of the issue, which are complicated, but we are available if this is requested of us."

    Asked whether there was any mediation or arbitration idea which could be proposed, he said "not at this stage. It is too early. Greece and Turkey evidently want to discuss this issue with the Europeans. Mr. Simitis will tour European capitals and Mr. Baykal also visited European capitals. Both countries evidently desire to fully inform European partners on the issue and on whatever concerns this desire, what we have to say is that if Europe can be useful, Europe can help to seek out a dialogue and law."

    Replying to another question on why reference was made "to seeking law" at a time when the European Parliament appears to consider that Greece is in line with the rules of international law, while Turkey appears to question its sovereign rights, the spokesman said:

    "This is your assessment. It is not we who will decide on issues of legal status and law, neither is it the jurisdiction of the European Parliament. It is a question for the international court, as I am aware. We hope for respect for the law. It is not up to us to say what the law is."

    It is the first time a French foreign ministry spokesman has referred publicly to the legal dimension of the issue; to date he had spoken steadfastly of a "political dialogue."

    [5] Bonn looks for better bilateral relations with Simitis visit

    Bonn, 21/02/1996 (ANA- P. Stangos)

    There are high expectations here over Prime Minister Costas Simitis' scheduled two-hour meeting with Chancellor Helmut Kohl tomorrow. The expectations concern mainly a general improvement in the relations between the two countries, and the finding of a "common language" in dealing with certain issues vital to Greece and Germany, such as the problem of relations with Turkey.

    Following the recent Greek-Turkish crisis, a important change of attitude has been noted among prominent figures dealing with foreign policy, such as Karl Lamers of the Christian Democrats, and SPD representative in the same domain, Karsten Fogdt. Both have distanced themselves from the prevailing dogma of the German foreign ministry viewing Greek-Turkish differences a bilateral affair, and have come to recognize that the problem may, under certain circumstances, be dealt with as a problem of the Europe an Union.

    Mr. Lamers yesterday issued a statement saying that the Simitis visit "must signal the occasion for a more substantial delving of German foreign policy into the problems of the Aegean," noting, at the same time, that "Greece's unusually difficult relationship with Turkey is a burden to the entire European Union".

    Referring to the recent Imia islets affair, Mr. Lamers notes that "the new Greek prime minister and his government reacted with moderation to the Turkish provocation," adding that "when the sovereignty of a European Union member-state is disputed from outside, the European Union must cover that member-state".

    "A common European Union policy towards Turkey, which Greece justly demands, presupposes a discussion of positions to be jointly represented...

    "When Greece can, on principle, be sure of the European Union's solidarity concerning its sovereignty and integrity, then there are more possibilities for finding more common positions with its government also in Balkan affairs. This is supported by its greater rationality, also expressed in its economic policy," he said.

    He finally calls on the German government to listen carefully to Mr. Simitis, so that Greece may not turn exclusively to other partners, and Germany may be left without a constructive role.

    [6] Australian FM suggests Greece seek recourse at The Hague

    Melbourne, 21/02/1996 (ANA-S. Hatzimanolis)

    Australia's foreign minister, Senator Gareth Evans, yesterday said Greece should refer its differences with Turkey over the Aegean to the International Court at The Hague.

    Speaking to Australian-Greek community representatives, the minister said he believed Greece had taken "a positive stance" during the recent stand-off in the Aegean over the Imia islets.

    "I believe Greece should have recourse to The Hague because it has many prospects, (and) it is practically certain that it will win," he said.

    Australia's position on the Cyprus problem, the senator added, was "known" and "clear."

    "It supports the only legal government, Greek-Cypriot positions and the efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General to solve the problem, it condemns Turkish intransigence and requests the de-militarization of the island," he said.

    He added that he would raise the issue of human rights violations in the Turkish-occupied parts of Cyprus during a special UN conference in Geneva.

    Senator Evans said the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would establish a liaison office in Canberra but rejected a request to monitor the office so that it would not campaign against Greece, adding that "there if there are violations of international agreements there will be penalties."

    [7] International court judge says Turkish claims 'theoretical'

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    An Italian judge sitting at the International Court in The Hague said yesterday that Turkish claims of circumstances having changed since the 1932 agreement between Turkey and Italy, are "theoretical".

    The statement was made during an exclusive interview with the Antenna television channel.

    Luigi Ferrari Bravo said that additional protocols and agreements ought to have been registered, according to United Nations Article 102.

    In practice, however, he added, the court has never previously demanded a protocol to be registered as a condition to its implementation.

    This is in agreement with the Greek government's position, which states that the registration of protocols is not compulsory.

    [8] Parliamentary delegation leaves on briefing mission

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    A large inter-party parliamentary delegation departed yesterday for Finland, Sweden and Germany on a mission to brief those countries' parliaments on Greece's national issues.

    Several Parliament and Europarliament deputies from all of the nation's political parties are participating in the mission.

    During their first day in Helsinki, the Greek delegation will meet with the Finnish Parliament's foreign affairs committee, while the head of the group, PASOK deputy Pafsanias Zakolikos, will meet with the Finnish Parliament's president and with Helsinki's minister of European and foreign affairs.

    The Greek MPs are scheduled to visit Stockholm on Thursday and Bonn next Tuesday.

    [9] Papazoi attends OECD environment meeting

    Paris, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    Participating in a two-day meeting of OECD environment ministers in Paris yesterday, Environment Under-secretary Elizabeth Papazoi said proposals she submitted and were approved included the addition of coastal zones in regions requiring protection, nuclear safety and protection for trans-border waters for the stable quality and quantity of water.

    Ms Papazoi also said that Greece greatly depended on the environment and was a country which did not pollute but, rather, received pollution: from rivers in the north, the Bulgarian nuclear reactor Kozloduy, the gold excavation unit in Turkey and pollution in the Black Sea coming down into the Mediterranean.

    She further said the decision to have the Kozloduy station closed down by granting economic aid to Bulgaria was a great success for Greece.

    [10] Geitonas to visit Sofia today

    Sofia, 21/02/1996 (ANA-N.Hios)

    Greek Public Order Minister Costas Geitonas will make an official two-day visit to Sofia today, at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart.

    The meeting will focus on the drafting of a protocol of co-operation between the two ministries to battle crime.

    [11] Albanian justice minister to discuss prisoners issue with Venizelos today

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    Albanian Justice Minister Hektor Frasheri arrived in Athens yesterday afternoon, accompanied by officials from his ministry.

    Greek Justice Minister Evangelos Venizelos hosted a dinner last night in honor of his Albanian counterpart.

    The two ministers are to have talks this morning, where they will discuss all aspects of their ministries, placing particular emphasis on the large number of Albanian prisoners in Greece.

    Mr. Frasheri is due to meet with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos early this morning, and will also visit the Acropolis. Tonight, he is due to attend a dinner held in his honor by Justice Ministry Secretary-General George Pavleas.

    [12] Canada to view Greek bulletproof vests

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Arms Industry will present its bulletproof vests next month to the Canadian military and police. The presentation takes place after an invitation by Ottawa's defense ministry. The vests are produced at the EBO research centre and factory in Kymi, Evia, and meets the highest international standards. According to reports, the depth of penetration is less than 10mm, while in the United States the standard is 44mm and in Germany 28mm.

    The vests are considered to bulletproof against small arms fire, including 7.62mm machine gun fire.

    [13] Premier confirms Greece, Cyprus have a common course

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis yesterday conveyed to Prime Minister Costas Simitis impressions concerning the Greece-Cyprus joint defense doctrine gained during his recent visit to Cyprus.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Simitis reconfirmed the common course of the two countries, stressing that their very close co-operation was based on the principle of the unified defense doctrine and continuous consultations.

    Mr. Simitis added that a settlement to the Cyprus problem could be found within the framework of the European Union.

    Mr. Kaklamanis stated that the defense of Cyprus was assured and that "the rapid completion of the doctrine will make Cyprus invulnerable."

    [14] Foreign ministry receives Cypriot document

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    The foreign ministry announced yesterday that the government has received a text listing the Cypriot government's positions on the Cyprus problem. The foreign ministry stated that the document falls within the framework of its on-going consultations on the issue. According to the announcement, the Athens government will carefully study these positions in order that these policy positions become the basis for future efforts by both sides.

    [15] Evert in Cyprus today

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert will head a party delegation starting a three-day visit to Cyprus today at the invitation of Democratic Rally party leader Yiannakis Matsis.

    Mr. Evert will hold talks in Nicosia with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, Parliament President Alexis Galanos, Archbishop Chrysostomos and political party leaders.

    An announcement by ND said the visit was taking place to strengthen and upgrade relations and co-operation between ND and the Democratic Rally. The two parties will organize a conference on national issues which Mr. Evert will address.

    ND's delegation will be composed of deputies Marietta Koutsikou-Yiannakou, George Papastamkos, Angelos Bratakos, Constantine Karamanlis and George Karatzaferis.

    [16] Greek political figures in Cyprus to discuss human rights aspect

    Larnaca, 21/02/1996 (ANA/CNA)

    Representatives of Greek political parties stressed the need for a reinforcement of efforts to find a solution for the Cyprus problem "through the avenue of human rights" yesterday.

    The statement was made on the arrival in Cyprus yesterday of a delegation, comprised of PASOK deputy George Mangakis, New Democracy deputy Marietta Koutsikou-Yiannakou (who is also a member of the ND party delegation to Cyprus) and Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos.

    The delegation is to attend an event entitled "Human Rights as the basis of the solution to the Cyprus problem."

    [17] President praises military during tour of Ioannina

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos praised the role of the military during a visit yesterday to the northwestern town of Konitsa, one of the stops on his tour of the Ioannina prefecture.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos is in the area to attend celebrations marking the 83rd anniversary of its liberation from Ottoman rule.

    "We support the armed forces because we must be ready at all times for any possibility," the president said.

    In criticizing Ankara's latest provocations in the eastern Aegean, Mr. Stephanopoulos said: "We are absolutely in the right, and that is verified by international agreements and from maps which Turkey has in its possession. Turkey's mistakes are so obvious that they were detrimental for them and positive for us in Europe and the United States."

    "These days our thoughts are turned to the Dodecanese islands, which were given in exchange for our heroism. Thus, Epirus is connected with the Dodecanese...

    "Our country does not desire war and conflict. Turkey, however, with its demands is the one which continues to provoke, creating issues for negotiation," he said.

    The president yesterday also visited a nearby border post on the Greek-Albanian frontier, handing out gifts to local residents.

    Today, Mr. Stephanopoulos will review a parade in Ioannina. The government is represented by finance minister and Epirus native Alekos Papadopoulos.

    On an unrelated issue, Mr. Stephanopoulos said he will visit Tirana next month for talks with the Albanian leadership.

    [18] Farmers' protests continue

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    Livestock breeders in the prefecture of Rodopi held a protest rally yesterday in a cinema in Komotini, demanding an end to uncontrolled imports of dairy products.

    During the rally, it was stressed that the livestock breeders of Thrace are facing bankruptcy due to low milk prices and the uncontrolled imports of dairy products.

    The rally concluded that if measures for the support of the sector were not taken soon, "dynamic mobilizations" would be undertaken during the next few days.

    Meanwhile, farmers in the prefectures of Ahaia and Ilia continued their mobilizations yesterday by blocking the national road between Patras and Tripoli at three places with heavy machinery.

    [19] DEH workers decide strike action

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    The Public Power Corporation workers' union (GENOP-DEH) yesterday decided to take strike action to press for the withdrawal of a government bill on public utilities.

    An announcement said DEH employees would participate in the General Confederation of Workers of Greece 24-hour strike on February 22, and that it would hold a 24-hour strike on March 12 and a 48-hour strike beginning March 21.

    GENOP-DEH believes the government's plans for public utilities clearly aims at privatization rather than the modernization and expansion of the companies.

    [20] Pensioners dissatisfied with latest increases

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    Social Security Fund (IKA) pensioners' representatives said yesterday's announcement that increases bringing the lowest pensions up to 100,000 drachmas within 1996, as announced by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou earlier, left a lot to be desired.

    They reiterated the demand for the equivalent of 20 daily wage rates for unskilled labor, arguing that as a result of a law voted by the previous New Democracy government, today's lowest pensions were the equivalent of 16.8 wage rates.

    Finance Under-secretary George Drys received the members of the pensioners' Coordinating Committee at his office yesterday and assured them that state pensioners would receive a retroactive 2.1 per cent increase as of January 1, 1996 together with their pension cheques in March.

    On the question of claims conveyed to him by pensioners' representatives, such as an increase in pensions and the linkage of low pensions to 20 daily wages earned by an unskilled worker, Mr. Drys said they did not fall under his jurisdiction.

    A report by IKA governor Grigoris Solomos says the implementation of the pensioners' demands would amount to 110 billion drachmas annually. In a previous report, IKA had suggested that the cost of such an implementation should be borne by the state budget.

    [21] Farmakis

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    Labor and Social Security Minister Nikos Farmakis said during yesterday's debate in the competent parliamentary committee that pensions increases in 1996 will be those envisaged in the budget and by the government's incomes policy.

    He did not rule out dialogue on linking pensions with the national collective labor agreement.

    The committee rejected by a majority the Communist Party's (KKE) backing of the 20-daily-wage-rate proposal.

    The proposal was later also endorsed by Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras, who added a call for linking pensions to 80 per cent of salaries.

    "Funding these pensions can be covered by the abolition of unjustified tax exemptions, as well as by taxing the interest on bonds and treasury bills," he said.

    Main opposition New Democracy party representative Vassilis Manginas said yesterday that the PASOK government's declared ethos "proves, with the deception of pensioners, once again to be a myth".

    Mr. Manginas accused the government of not respecting pensioners, saying that there are contradictions in statements made by the labor minister, the health under-secretary, the national economy minister and the finance minister.

    [22] Greek products go on show in FYROM this weekend

    Skopje, 21/02/1996 (ANA - M. Vichou)

    About 70 Greek companies from northern Greece will organize an exhibition of Greek products entitled EXPO '96 in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on February 24-26.

    The relevant initiative belongs to private business agencies in Thessaloniki. The Greek public relations company ABC has undertaken to organize the exhibition in coordination with the advertising department of the newspaper 'Nova Makedonia'.

    Products to be exhibited include consumer goods, equipment for shops and factories, textiles materials and machinery, footwear materials and shoes and ready-made clothes. Addressing a press conference on behalf of ABC, Mr. Constantinidis said Greek companies showed particular interest in selling their products in the market of FYROM, joint ventures and purchasing commodities.

    Speaking at the press conference, the head of the Greek liaison office in Skopje, Alexandros Mallias, said economic relations and co-operation between the two countries "will acquire new dynamism after an agreement is achieved at the forthcoming talks in New York."

    [23] Commercial Bank to train Romanian bank executives

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    The Athens-based Commercial Bank announced today that, in co-operation with a private consulting firm, it will oversee a training project for Romanian bank executives within the framework of the EU-supported PHARE programme.

    The project, which is budgeted at 344,000 ECU, is sponsored by the Romanian Centre for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and will last for six months.

    The Commercial Bank has announced plans to become active in the Romanian market.

    [24] Ancient amphora found

    Athens, 21/02/1996 (ANA)

    An ancient amphora was discovered yesterday in the sea bed near Faliraki in Rhodes. The amphora, decorated with grooves and with an ellipsoid base, is in perfect condition and was brought to the surface by a professional fisherman.

    End of English language section.

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