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A.N.A. Bulletin, 01/08/96

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 952), August 1, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Papantoniou confident CSF programs on target for '96
  • [2] Opposition remarks
  • [3] Athens rejects Skopje's allegations
  • [4] Athens' new ambassador to the Court of St. James assumes post
  • [5] Iakovos honored at New York City reception
  • [6] Stephanopoulos
  • [7] Patriarch
  • [8] Greece to honor former Australian PM
  • [9] Gov't says Athens' bid for 2004 games promising
  • [10] Olympic Team to be honored after arrival
  • [11] Albanian official files suit against ethnic Greek newspaper's reporter
  • [12] Constantopoulos briefs Stephanopoulos on his recent tour of Israel
  • [13] Army patrols deployed to prevent forest fires on Thassos
  • [14] EU expected to extend temporary ban on Greek meat
  • [15] Professor reiterates fact that humans are immune from foot-and-mouth disease
  • [16] Culture ministry to receive 160 billion drachmas from Delors II
  • [17] Gov't responds to harsh ND comments
  • [18] Tirana says it's attempting first-stage effort to transfer inmates
  • [19] Evert, Gov't trade criticism over draft bill on mass media
  • [20] Overnight stays fall in June compared to '95 figures
  • [21] Petrol prices fall
  • [22] Foodstuffs, beverages without state lab's approval will be withdrawn

  • [1] Papantoniou confident CSF programs on target for '96

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday noted progress in all programs falling under the Community Support Framework II (CSF), expressing at the same time optimism that all 1996 targets will have been attained by the end of the year.

    Mr. Papantoniou spoke to reporters after a meeting of the inner cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, which focused on the rate of absorption of Community funds and the implementation of Community Support Framework programs.

    "The government is determined to make every "effort to make 1996 a success for the Community Support Framework so that 1997 will be a year for 'taking off'," Mr. Papantoniou said.

    On his part, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas was also optimistic that funds earmarked for 1996 would be absorbed, as well as 25 per cent of funds not absorbed over the 1994-1995 period.

    Mr. Reppas, who was referring to the course of projects included in the CSF, said that at yesterday's inner cabinet meeting emphasis was placed on the course of 18 sectional and 13 regional projects included in the CSF and not on the course of the nine major projects.

    National Economy Under-secretary Christos Pachtas also referred to the progress of support framework works, stressing that the expenditures for works to be completed during the current year will be higher than for the previous two years together and double the expenditures laid out in 1995.

    [2] Opposition remarks

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    In an announcement issued on the inner cabinet meeting, main opposition New Democracy party said that billions of drachmas derived from the European Union remain unexploited, while the funds could be used to help "our declining national economy."

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) underlined that the government ought to promote "radical restructuring measures" for effectiveness and transparency in the management of the Community funds.

    Synaspismos also criticized the government for not having adopted the coalition's proposal regarding the formation of a national inter-party committee to oversee and manage Community funds.

    [3] Athens rejects Skopje's allegations

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that Athens rejected allegations contained in a demarche lodged by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which claimed that Greece is creating obstacles for application of an interim agreement signed between the two countries in New York last September.

    Mr. Reppas added that such actions on the part of FYROM did not contribute to a positive development of relations between the two countries.

    He said the government would examine the relevant demarche carefully and would reply accordingly.

    Replying to questions on the government's position, particularly after the demarche it received from Skopje, Mr. Reppas said the government's policy on the FYROM issue remained unchanged.

    [4] Athens' new ambassador to the Court of St. James assumes post

    London, 01/08/1996 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    The new Greek ambassador to Britain, Vassilis Zafiropoulos, presented his credentials to Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace yesterday.

    Speaking to reporters after the presentation ceremony, Mr. Zafiropoulos spoke on bilateral relations.

    "The framework of Greek-British relations has two dimensions, one is the common economic and political interests and the other is the historic and emotional ties which were created mainly during the Second World War, with the common struggles fought by the two countries."

    He said that relations between the two countries are good, although there is room for improvement.

    "If there have been certain shadows, this is owed to the manner in which the British side has approached certain subjects, which are sensitive to us," he said.

    [5] Iakovos honored at New York City reception

    New York, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    A farewell reception for outgoing Orthodox Archbishop of North and South America Iakovos was held yesterday at the city's Gracie Mansion, hosted by New York City Mayor Rudolf Guiliani.

    Addressing the event, Mr. Guiliani described the Archbishop as one of the great religious leaders worldwide, who in seeking a better understanding between various religions opened the doors of the church to the faithful of all creeds who share the aims of peace and reconciliation.

    "Thanks to his own vision, the flock of the Greek Orthodox Church of America kept its cultural heritage, while at the same time, cultivating the aims of our society and honoring American ideals," the mayor said.

    Referring to his 37 years of service, Iakovos said he was satisfied that he was leaving behind a well-organized church - united and progressing.

    "What I would have liked to do and time got the better of me, or I was not able to, was to imbue our people with a spirit that will always guide them, to give them self-knowledge which we need so much, and a fuller knowledge of our history from which we are inspired for so many years."

    Concerning future plans, the 85-year-old Archbishop said he planned to write his memoirs after a period of rest and recollection.

    [6] Stephanopoulos

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    Meanwhile, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos has sent new Orthodox Archbishop of America Spyridon a cable of congratulations upon his election, wishing him strength and success in his task.

    [7] Patriarch

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    In addressing the new Archbishop of America in a ceremony in Istanbul, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos praised his unlimited faith and devotion to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, warning him that a difficult struggle lay ahead in safeguarding and maintaining the high ideals of the Church and the nation.

    "A variety of problems, currents, trends and ideologies await you," Vartholomeos said.

    [8] Greece to honor former Australian PM

    Melbourne, 01/08/1996 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos has awarded the decoration of the Order of Honor to former Australian prime minister and philhellene G. Whitlam, in recognition of his contribution to politics.

    Mr. Whitlam, who has also been honored by the Athens Academy in 1993, is very popular among the Greek community in Australia.

    In a written statement, Mr. Whitlam referred to his long-standing and close ties with Greece, adding that the decoration constituted a special distinction for him.

    The decoration will take place at a special ceremony at the Greek embassy in Canberra.

    [9] Gov't says Athens' bid for 2004 games promising

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    Sports Under-secretary Andreas Fouras yesterday said Athens' bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games had the needed exposure during the current Atlanta Games, adding that t here's an "international feeling" that Athens is the favorite among the other 10 candidate cities.

    He underlined that great efforts are being made in order to secure the bid, saying he believes Greece's capital will be one of the four or five cities pre-selected in February 1997.

    "What is important is to solve any problems we may have within the country and not to 'export' disagreements," the sports under-secretary said.

    Mr. Fouras said the bid for 2004 "is complete and will take the 'gold medal'. I believe an incredible job has been done in this sector."

    [10] Olympic Team to be honored after arrival

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    In a related issue, it was announced yesterday that the Greek Olympic team will land in Athens next Tuesday on a flight specially chartered by the government, Mr. Fouras said.

    He said the athletes will ride up through Syngrou Avenue from the airport to Hadrian's Gate in central Athens, where they will be honored by the Athens municipal council. They will then proceed on foot to the Panathenian Stadium, where the first Olympic Games were held in 1896 and where an event open to the public will be organized.

    He added that Prime Minister Costas Simitis also expressed his satisfaction over the athletes' performances, and will hold a reception in their honor on Aug. 23.

    Mr. Fouras underlined that over the past 15 years, significant efforts have been made in the nation's sports sector.

    "The athletes went to Atlanta without facing any major problems, while they knew beforehand what material rewards they would receive from the state if they became Olympic champions," Mr. Fouras said.

    He added that following a Greek Soccer Pools (OPAP) proposal, all income from next Wednesday's Lotto drawing will be allocated to construct a weightlifting center in the Piraeus district of Nikaia.

    Finally, commenting on problems Olympic gymnastics gold-medalist Yiannis Melissanidis said he faced before the games in dealings with the Greek Amateur Athletics Association (SEGAS), Mr. Fouras said: "Our Olympic champion has many complaints which he has told me and the Olympic Games Committee about. Indeed there were problems. To the SEGAS president Mr. (Stratis) Molyvas, I have only this to say: 'It's better to keep quiet'."

    [11] Albanian official files suit against ethnic Greek newspaper's reporter

    Gjirokaster, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    A prosecutor in this southern Albanian city summoned a reporter working for the newspaper "Voice of Omonoia" on Tuesday, informing him that the regional governor of Gjirokaster filed a lawsuit against him several days ago.

    The lawsuit was filed by regional governor Fatos Girezi against reporter Christakis Tzias.

    Omonoia is an ethnic Greek organization in Albania.

    The reason for the lawsuit was an article published in the newspaper denouncing one of the alleged irregularities occurring in Albania's general elections last May 26.

    Mention was made of more than 400 voters in the Pogonio community, who were unable to vote because their names were not listed in voting registers. The reporter also mentioned the names of those directly responsible, according to the election law for the irregularity.

    [12] Constantopoulos briefs Stephanopoulos on his recent tour of Israel

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos yesterday briefed President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on his recent visit to Israel and the self-rule Palestinian areas.

    Speaking to reporters after the 45-minute meeting, Mr. Constantopoulos said he had underlined to the president his party's views on "the enormous and unexploited opportunities" concerning Greece's presence in the Middle East.

    He said the Palestinians counted on Greece's role in the region, adding that Athens was "also paying" for its absence in the Balkans. He also set out the Coalition's positions on the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), on the course of which he expressed pessimism.

    "Time is passing and this is at the expense of national interests," he said, adding that if Greece had opted for the solution of a composite name for the neighboring state (i.e. one containing the word 'Macedonia' or some derivative), the problem would have been resolved.

    He reiterated his call for a meeting of political party leaders under the chairmanship of the president of the republic to discuss the issue. Mr. Constantopoulos maintained that Prime Minister Costas Simitis' stance on the issue was contradictory. On March 14, he said, the prime minister had spoken in terms of "an imminent solution within the framework of the interim agreement," while he now proclaimed that "we are not in a hurry, we shall wait and see."

    [13] Army patrols deployed to prevent forest fires on Thassos

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    Army special forces have been deployed to protect extensive forests on the island of Thassos against fires, particularly those caused by arson.

    Commando units will be guarding nearly 40,000 acres of forest land around the clock until mid-October, when the risk of fire is considerably diminished.

    The troops have orders to arrest anyone found in the forests who cannot provide a reasonable explanation for their presence. Suspects who are arrested will be handed over immediately to the nearest forest ranger post for questioning.

    "The army is the only solution for effectively guarding the forests on Thassos, which has more green spaces than any other Aegean island," Kavala forestry head Nikos Marmaras said.

    Mr. Marmaras declined, however, to reveal the measures being taken by commandos to guard the island's forests.

    Assisting the troops in their task will be 2,500 volunteers, permanent residents of the island, who will be patrolling forest areas day and night in jeeps and will have continuous contact with forest authorities.

    Meanwhile, a large forest fire on the island of Hios, which burned 2,600 hectares of agricultural and pasture land after raging for four days, was finally brought under control yesterday.

    Fire-fighting aircraft remained on stand-by for the eventuality of the fire being rekindled.

    [14] EU expected to extend temporary ban on Greek meat

    Brussels, 01/08/1996 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The European Union's Standing Veterinary Committee will convene today, with well-informed sources at the European Commission saying the committee will probably extend a quarantine on Greek exports of live animals, meat and unpasteurized dairy products due to several outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease.

    The issue of combating foot-and-mouth disease will top the agenda at today's committee meeting. A report prepared by two Community experts who recently visited Greece will also be discussed and arguments will be heard by the Greek side, which wants, if not a complete lifting of quarantine, at least its restriction to regions where a number of cases of the disease have been recorded.

    According to assessments by Commission officials, the magnitude of the problem that relevant Community services observe at present on the foot-and-mouth outbreaks in Greece is such that the veterinary committee will have difficulty in lifting the quarantine.

    On the other hand, Greek diplomatic sources in Brussels expressed the hope that Athens' arguments and measures taken to combat the disease might lead Community experts to a partial lifting of the ban.

    According to all indications, extension of quarantine for at least a month is at present the greatest likelihood.

    In another development, veterinarians in the community of Palli in the Evros triangle yesterday located three new cases of cowpox, resulting in the slaughter of 240 sheep and goats.

    Veterinarians believe cowpox outbreaks in herds in the Evros region spread from Bulgaria because cases of cowpox were located in Haskovo, Bulgaria, where many small animals were slaughtered

    Meanwhile, a new case of foot-and-mouth disease was noted in a herd in the Alexandroupolis area yesterday. Veterinarians have arrived at the scene, and will probably slaughter the infected animals.

    [15] Professor reiterates fact that humans are immune from foot-and-mouth disease

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    A Thessaloniki university veterinary medicine professor reiterated yesterday that there is absolutely no danger of humans contracting foot-and-mouth disease, several outbreaks of which have affected livestock in the Evros Delta region over the past few weeks.

    Sotiris Leontidis, a professor of pathological anatomy at the Thessaloniki Veterinary Academy made the statement in response to an announcement by the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Alexandroupolis that a large order for canned cheese was canceled because of foot-and-mouth outbreaks. He again stated that no danger existed for consumers.

    Mr. Leontidis said the slaughter and burial of animals affected by the disease and confiscation of dairy and other products coming from stockbreeding units where cases of the disease broke out was occurring to prevent the possibility of the disease spreading to other animals.

    [16] Culture ministry to receive 160 billion drachmas from Delors II

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    The culture ministry is set to receive 160 billion drachmas from the Second Community Support Framework (Delors II), Culture Minister Stavros Benos announced yesterday.

    The ministry will distribute the funds equally to two categories of programs, each absorbing 80 billion drachmas. Specifically, the first is a tourism/culture business programme, and the other being the regional category, with 13 regional business programs.

    Mr. Benos published the budget of each project, with the state contributing 45 per cent to the Community's 55 per cent.

    Projects with the largest budget include construction of the Acropolis Museum and completion of the Athens Music Hall (Megaron), as well as the construction of a Thessaloniki music hall.

    The 80 billion drachmas provided by the national programme are to be distributed as follows:

    Unification of archaeological sites of central Athens, with a budget of 10 billion drachmas; a national cultural community network (15 billion drachmas); the new Acropolis museum (30 billion drachmas); another museum (seven billion); repairs and restoration of monuments (four billion drachmas); a national monuments' registry and a monuments' archives (two billion); an Athens convention and cultural center in order to promote the completion of the Athens music hall (six billion); a Thessaloniki conventio n and cultural center (eight billion drachmas).

    [17] Gov't responds to harsh ND comments

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    Sparks flew between the government and the main opposition New Democracy party yesterday, following government spokesman Dimitris Reppas' reaction to criticism leveled at the government by ND president Miltiades Evert.

    Mr. Reppas said "Mr. Evert and New Democracy, which as a government with a foreign policy of unconditional surrender of our national interests has led Greece to isolation and marginalization, can not accuse the government, which has expanded our country 's international support." He criticized the economic policies followed by New Democracy and said it had resulted in an amassing of debts for Greece, adding that ND's social policies had "sowed poverty, despair and misery in Greek society."

    Responding to the criticism, New Democracy issued an announcement saying that Mr. Reppas is narrating to the Greek people "midsummer night's dreams, which are blossoming during the prime minister's and the government's sleep."

    "When they wake up," the ND statement read, "they will realize the country has been internationally ridiculed, the whole economy is out of control and those responsible for economic policy simply have their heads in the clouds."

    [18] Tirana says it's attempting first-stage effort to transfer inmates

    Tirana, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    The Albanian justice ministry estimates that 700 Albanian nationals are serving time in Greek prisons, about 120 of whom are minors.

    A spokesman said the ministry was making efforts to transfer minors to Albania at a first stage and then the rest. He said the transfer of Albanian inmates will take place after their offenses were examined in the light of the Albanian penal code, meaning that jail terms could be increased, decreased or written off.

    Relevant Albanian services have been instructed to examine the files of 23 Albanian inmates who have expressed a desire to serve the rest of their sentences in the neighboring country.

    The Albanian spokesman denied reports that Albanian inmates started a hunger strike in Greek prisons, protesting Tirana's alleged indifference.

    However, the Albanian side said that due to the state of prisons it is not in a position to house such a large number of inmates.

    [19] Evert, Gov't trade criticism over draft bill on mass media

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert yesterday attacked the government and the prime minister personally over a draft bill on relations between public contractors and suppliers with the mass media.

    The main opposition leader stressed that the government had shown excessive delay on the issue, and was now pretending to be tackling the issue.

    "The deception of the Greek people must stop, and for transparency and honesty to prevail in public life there is a need for contractors and suppliers to be disentangled from the media," he said, adding: "the prime minister knows full well who these people are. He is obliged to summon them immediately and give them two months at most for the racket to break."

    In response, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas used harsh language, saying: "perhaps Mr. Evert may be looking at 'interwoven' interests from the inside, because he himself participates in the management of a publishing company, sitting at the same table with a businessman who is a public supplier."

    He added that a previous New Democracy government had done nothing to provide solutions in the broadcasting sector.

    He said the government would continue its policy of transparency in the media sector, and called on Mr. Evert to avoid the temptation of creating impressions.

    "In the midst of a heat wave, his stance provides coolness and entertainment to the Greek people," Mr. Reppas concluded.

    [20] Overnight stays fall in June compared to '95 figures

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    Overnight stays in hotels around Greece fell by 12.8 per cent in June compared with the same month of 1995, according to figures released yesterday by the National Statistics Service (ESY).

    A similar drop of 12.69 per cent was recorded in overnight stays during the whole of the second quarter compared with the same period last year.

    According to ESY, the number of overnight stays fell in June '96 to 1,799,469 from 2,063,650 in the same month last year.

    The corresponding figures for the three-month periods April-June were 4,495,720 and 5,149,042, respectively.

    The drop is reflected in the average occupancy rate for hotels, which was 68.24 per cent in June, compared to 78.26 per cent in June '95. The corresponding figures for the three-month periods April-June were 60.36 per cent and 69.14 per cent, respectively.

    The largest drops were recorded in June in the prefecture of Hania (24.68 per cent), Corfu (23 per cent), Halkidiki (15.68 per cent), Rhodes (13.74 per cent), Lasithi (13.63 per cent) and Thessaloniki (9.13 per cent).

    A drop of only 2.47 per cent was recorded in Athens.

    The picture in terms of reduction by region was basically the same for the three-month period April-June. For the six-month period January-June, overnight stays in Athens totaled 1,958,757, compared to 1,962,435 in the same period last year, marking a decrease of just 0.14 per cent, resulting in occupancy rates of 57.81 per cent and 57.92 per cent respectively.

    A drop of 12.43 per cent was also recorded in June this year in the number of arrivals by charter flights to the country's main airports in Athens, Rhodes, Corfu, Irakleion and Thessaloniki - which account for 70 per cent of total charter arrivals to Greece.

    According to the civil aviation department, a total of 584,239 visitors arrived on charter flights in June, compared to 667,182 in the same month last year.

    The corresponding figures for the three-month periods April-June were 1,330,218 and 1,559,727 respectively, marking a drop of 14.7 per cent.

    Despite the figures, the Bank of Greece said that exchange from tourism had risen in February this year to $150 million, from $118.4 million in the same month of 1995, marking a rise of 26.7 per cent.

    In the two-month period January-February this year, tourist exchange amounted to $333 million, against $284 million last year, marking an increase of 17.7 per cent. Meanwhile, representatives of employees of the Hellenic Tourism Organization (EOT) in a press conference said yesterday that Greek tourism in order to recover needed strategic planning, not improvisations which serve "petty party political, and sometimes, personal interests."

    [21] Petrol prices fall

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    The retail price of gasoline will decrease by 0.50 drachmas per liter as of today and until Aug. 8. The retail price of diesel will also decrease by 0.4 drachmas per liter. Lower prices are due to a fall in international prices.

    Super will cost 210.8 drachmas per liter in the Attica region and the Thessaloniki prefecture, while unleaded gasoline is set at 194.8 drachmas per liter.

    [22] Foodstuffs, beverages without state lab's approval will be withdrawn

    Athens, 01/08/1996 (ANA)

    All foodstuffs and beverages circulating on the market without the state laboratory's approval will be withdrawn from circulation by authorities, following a development ministry decision. The initiative is part of an attempt to halt the sale of bootleg and adulterated drinks.

    The ministry issued a market control decree to this effect yesterday, aimed at protecting consumers from adulterated products, and to halt the sale of bootleg alcoholic beverages in night clubs.

    End of English language section.

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