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A.N.A. Bulletin, 29/08/96

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 975), August 29, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Simitis directs stinging attack at ND, Evert

  • [2] ND response

  • [3] Counter-reaction

  • [4] Samaras criticizes what he calls pre-election promises by PASOK, ND

  • [5] Campaigning itinerary

  • [6] Greece doesn't rule out legal action against Ciller over Cyprus violence

  • [7] Ciller on Thrace

  • [8] No decisions taken by inter-party committee on pre-election broadcast rules

  • [9] Constantopoulos confident Synaspismos will re-enter Parliament

  • [10] Orthodox cathedral vandalized in Albania

  • [11] Report says Tirana inquires about deportations

  • [12] Rare Mount Athos artifacts to be exhibited in Thessaloniki next year

  • [13] Juppe to visit Athens in mid September

  • [14] New Israeli ambassador assumes post today

  • [15] Industrialists' federation calls parties for development commitment

  • [16] Cruise ship passengers suffering from food poisoning out of danger


  • [1] Simitis directs stinging attack at ND, Evert

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday launched a stinging attack on New Democracy president Miltiades Evert, following an announcement by the main opposition leader of ND's economic program on Tuesday.

    Dismissing Mr. Evert's election promises as "fraudulent", Mr. Simitis said the ND leader was copying (then ND leader) Constantine Mitsotakis in 1990.

    In announcing his party's economic program , Mr. Evert said an ND government would abolish the so-called objective taxation criteria and a 35 per cent company tax, reduce tax rates in border regions by 50 per cent and introduce tax incentives for the stock market. He also announced measures and incentives that would boost farmers' income and pensions.

    Asking where Mr. Evert would find the 600 billion drachmas needed to implement his planned measures, Mr. Simitis said the ND leader should be called to account for "the seven lies with which he is trying to mislead the Greek people."

    The premier also charged that ND was preparing a fiscal onslaught on workers' incomes, stressing that the Greek people knew "who is socially sensitive and who is socially callous".

    Replying to ND criticism concerning the government's record in absorbing European Union funds, the prime minister noted that New Democracy had three times failed to draw up an economic convergence program acceptable to the Community.

    Mr. Simitis termed Mr. Evert's intention to abolish objective taxation criteria as "outright populism", stressing that tax evasion was one of the main problems faced by the Greek economy and that a firm policy was required.

    On the measures announced by Mr. Evert for border regions, Mr. Simitis said "the residents of these regions know very well when programs were actually implemented and when generous incentives were given."

    Replying to the opposition leader's accusations that the PASOK government had burdened the state budget with 682 billion drachmas, Mr. Simitis said that for the first time in recent years, the present government was cutting public spending, keeping with in spending limits and drastically reducing the public deficit.

    In addition, the prime minister responded to Mr. Evert's promises of increases in farmers' pensions by saying that "we have seen this film before, on the eve of elections in 1993, when New Democracy voted a bill giving increases, not right away, but for the following year, when it knew that it would not be in power."

    Mr. Simitis reiterated that the PASOK government would increase farmers' pensions.

    Meanwhile, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas also launched a stinging attack against Mr. Evert, accusing ND of a lack of ideas and policies, adding that the main opposition's "wishes for a decent election result are a distant dream."

    "The (ND) party has never in the past managed as government to do what it promises to do as opposition," Mr. Reppas told the press.

    Mr. Evert's announcements, the government spokesman said they were reminiscent of "old party system" tactics.

    [2] ND response

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    In response, ND spokesman Prokopis Pavlopoulos reiterated ND's invitation to Mr. Simitis for a televised debate with Mr. Evert.

    "It is time for Mr. Simitis to abandon the security of monologue and vagueness," Mr. Pavlopoulos said.

    Replying to the government's statements that ND's plans are "economically unviable", the ND spokesman accused the finance ministry services, the finance minister and the prime minister of "inconsistency."

    He stressed that Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos and Mr. Simitis "managed to assess the cost" of ND's economic measures despite the fact that the state's General Accounting Office has said it is unable to do so.

    Replying to the government's statements that ND's plans are "economically unviable", the ND spokesman accused the finance ministry services, the finance minister and the prime minister of "inconsistency.

    [3] Counter-reaction

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    Responding to Mr. Pavlopoulos' statements, PASOK central committee' Secretary Costas Skandalidis said PASOK was implementing an economic policy with specific results, one upgrading the country and gaining international recognition.

    "PASOK is acting while the main opposition was simply resorting to promises. The people know and are able to judge," he added.

    On his part, Finance Under-secretary Giorgos Drys yesterday accused the main opposition New Democracy party of turning into an "irresponsible demagogy", while criticizing ND president Miltiades Evert for his statements on financial measures to be implemented if his party wins the forthcoming elections.

    Mr. Drys was speaking from Corfu, where he is standing as a PASOK candidate.

    "Mr. Evert's 'responsible' opposition has been transformed today into an irresponsible demagogy and a crescendo of promises which take a few hours to blow into the air the massive work which the PASOK government achieved with responsibility, hard work and great sacrifices from the people in the three years from 1993-96," Mr. Drys said.

    He continued to say that the people have enough knowledge and judgment not to allow "such irresponsibilities whose only victim will be our national economy."

    "Mr. Evert, with his 'helicopters', has been bombarding since yesterday (Tuesday) every Greek village and town with irresponsible and demagogic promises which are impossible to implement."

    In another statement, Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas described Mr. Evert's proposals as "demagogic half-measures", and set out details of measures contained in proposed draft bills which, he said, provided comprehensive and bold answers to the problems of Greek agriculture.

    Meanwhile, Justice Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who is being replaced today by a caretaker minister along with another three of his colleagues, said in Thessaloniki yesterday that Mr. Evert's announcements were a "delirium of populism undermining the seriousness of our political life."

    "Who expresses New Democracy most clearly, its confused incumbent leader, or (former national economy minister) Stephanos Manos, who states his class consciousness sincerely, showing in a most clear and flagrant manner the social face of New Democracy?", he asked.

    [4] Samaras criticizes what he calls pre-election promises by PASOK, ND

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras has accused PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy party of "uncontrolled pre-election over-bidding of promises and hand-outs."

    Mr. Samaras commented on statements made by the two major parties.

    "It is the same multiple-use project, the same show which the Greek people have been living and dearly paying for years," Mr. Samaras said.

    He warned that today's easy promises will be translated into "new taxes, harsher austerity, higher unemployment and social insensitivity" on the day after the elections.

    [5] Campaigning itinerary

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    Mr. Evert is scheduled to give a press conference at Zappeion Hall today at 6 p.m. to reportedly provide details on the proposals he announced at a joint meeting of the party's Parliamentary group and the central committee on Tuesday.

    Yesterday, it was decided that ND's central election slogan will be "Sure Solutions for the New Era".

    Top party members explained last night that with this slogan the main opposition party will attempt to convince Greek voters that its program contains realistic and applicable proposals for tomorrow's uncertainties.

    Additionally, Mr. Mitsotakis, who is also ND's honorary president, will arrive in Irakleio today to inaugurate the party's election campaign in the prefecture.

    On the opposite camp, PASOK's central election committee yesterday finalized Mr. Simitis' program of public pre-election appearances, starting with the islands Hios and Lesvos on Monday.

    On the following day, Sept. 3, the 22nd anniversary of PASOK's founding, the prime minister will present the party's election manifesto at a session of its national council at the Peace and Friendship stadium in Neo Faliro.

    On Sept. 5, Mr. Simitis will inaugurate construction works at the new Athens international airport at Spata, and will speak at the opening of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair (HELEXPO) on the following day, where he will set out the ruling party's framework of economic policy after the election. On Sept. 11, the premier will travel to Irakleio, and is likely to stay on Crete the following day. His televised clash with Mr. Evert has been scheduled for Sept. 13, while a nationwide televised inter view is planned for Sept. 16.

    [6] Greece doesn't rule out legal action against Ciller over Cyprus violence

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    Athens yesterday did not rule out the possibility of initiating legal action against Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller if allegations of a Turkish deputy concerning the recent violence and the death of two Greek Cypriots i n Cyprus are substantiated.

    "Greece reserves the right to take measures if the accusation of the Turkish deputy proves to be correct," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.

    People's Republican Party deputy Mehmet Sevghen claimed in a question tabled in the Turkish national assembly that Ms Ciller provided financial backing to the ultra-right-wing militant organization "Gray Wolves" in order that hundreds of its members travel to the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus and instigate recent violence, which resulted in the death of two unarmed Greek Cypriots during anti-occupation demonstrations earlier this month.

    Mr. Sevghen claims that Ms Ciller, who was standing in at the time for Turkish Premier Necmettin Erbakan during his 10-day tour of Iran and Pakistan, withdrew 65 billion Turkish lira (US $ 800 million) from a special fund for the promotion of Turkey abroad in order to finance the extremists' actions.

    Greek Cypriot protester Tassos Isaac was beaten to death during the demonstration against Turkey's continuing occupation of 37 per cent of the island republic by a mob of Turkish extremists, reportedly Gray Wolves. His funeral a few days later sparked further violence when Turkish occupation forces fatally shot another Greek Cypriot demonstrator and a relative of the first victim as he climbed a flagpole in the buffer zone to pull down a Turkish flag.

    Replying to questions, Mr. Reppas didn't rule out a recourse by Greece against Turkey's foreign minister and one-time prime minister before international judicial bodies.

    "It appears that Ms Ciller gave herself the role of 'Gray Fox' and sent 'Gray Wolves' to Cyprus to create incidents and the false impression among international public opinion that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots cannot live together on Cyprus," the government spokesman said.

    "The latest developments, following the accusation of the Turkish deputy, prove exactly the opposite," he said, adding that "the friction and tension on the island are created by the intervention of a third party which operates as an obstacle to the fin ding of a solution to the Cyprus problem."

    Commenting in particular on Ms Ciller, Mr. Reppas added that "the role of the Turkish foreign minister has been exposed internationally and this role must give cause for concern among those who should be worried about developments in the region."

    Meanwhile, Nicosia said it was waiting for the conclusion of evidence-gathering regarding identification of the killers of both Isaak and Solomou in order to provide the necessary legal groundwork for the island republic's attorney general to set a reward for their arrest and to defer the issue for trial to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

    Confirmation of the presence of Turkish extremists in Cyprus came from the president of Turkish nationalist organizations, Azmi Karamahmutoglu, in an interview with Turkish magazine "Tempo," in which he claimed that 3,000 members of extremist Turkish nationalist organizations arrived in occupied Cyprus to confront Greek Cypriots who were to take part in a motorcycle protest ride on Sunday, Aug. 11.

    The ride, organized by the Cyprus Motorcyclists' Federation and supported by the European Federation, began from Berlin on Aug. 2 and was to tentatively end in Turkish-occupied Kyrenia.

    Mr. Karamahmutoglu, who said the extremists acted on their own free will and did not receive any funds from the state, went to Cyprus to be in the front-line, because the Greek Cypriots' aim was, as he claimed, to show the west they "were attacked by Turkish soldiers."

    The Turkish extremists had also said before the incidents that they planned to counter the Greek Cypriot rally.

    "If the Greek Cypriot youths violate our territory they will find the Gray Wolves facing them," Mr. Karamahmutoglu, the leader of the far-right "Idealist Fraternities" group, said.

    According to reports, most Gray Wolves members are affiliated with the Idealist Fraternities, a group with ties to an extreme-right party.

    [7] Ciller on Thrace

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    Meanwhile in Ankara, Turkey's Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller told a meeting with representatives of the "Turkish" Associations of Western Thracians that "Turkey has common religion, language, civilization and origin with the 'Turks' of western Thrace," an ANA dispatch from Istanbul reported yesterday. She pledged that the foreign ministry, together with citizen organizations, would make every effort to help the "Turks of western Thrace" to overcome their problems. Referring to the recent violent incidents in Cyprus, she said that "the entire world has become a witness to Turkey's decisive reaction." Ms Ciller also reiterated a past statement that Turkey will "break the hands of whoever tries to touch the Turkish flag."

    [8] No decisions taken by inter-party committee on pre-election broadcast rules

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    Disagreements between party representatives over the manner in which election campaigns will be broadcast by radio and television stations and on the relevant decisions issued by the National Radio-Television Council (ESR) resulted in no decisions being taken during yesterday's meeting of the inter-party committee.

    Parties called on the ESR to submit proposals regarding broadcasting time on private stations, as has already been done for time on the state-run television and radio stations (ERT).

    Representatives of the smaller parties protested and asked for an equal distribution of television broadcasting time.

    Thus the ESR must convene again in order to extend its proposal to privately-run radio and television, while the interparty committee is to meet again by tonight, in order to finalize the changes to be made by ministerial decision.

    Speaking after yesterday's meeting of the interparty committee, Interior Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the ESR's proposal "determines a framework of operation for public and private stations, for which there will be specific unified provisions for t he first time."

    During yesterday's meeting, the inter-party committee agreed that the ESR proceed with banning the broadcasting of any type of opinion poll by radio or television during the last 10 days before the elections.

    Main opposition New Democracy party representative Angelos Bratakos said "general rules must be implemented for all media outlets with equal (broadcast) time for the two main parties and a significant amount of time for the smaller ones. The distribution of time has occurred according to the provisions of 1993. The ESR's proposal for state-run channels is accepted. We are asking for equal provisions for private channels.

    [9] Constantopoulos confident Synaspismos will re-enter Parliament

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress party (Synaspismos) President Nikos Constantopoulos yesterday expressed certainty that his party would amass enough votes in next month's general elections to be represented in Parliament.

    In the last general elections in 1993, Synaspismos narrowly failed to gain enough votes to win a seat in Parliament, falling just 3,000 votes short nationwide.

    Mr. Constantopoulos said Synaspismos' political target was to turn the Sept. 22 elections "into a starting point for a substantial political re-alignment and a change in the political scene", in order to "put an end to the depressing dominance of the two major parties"

    In addition, Mr. Constantopoulos invited Prime Minister Costas Simitis to a debate on domestic and foreign policy issues, as well as on the issue of center-left policy. He accused Mr. Simitis of remembering the left-wing only before elections, "just like (his predecessor) Andreas Papandreou." The Synaspismos leader also expressed a hope that all political parties would be represented in Parliament after the elections, however, he singled out Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga for particular criticism.

    "After imperialism and capitalism, Ms Papariga has discovered a third scenario - Synaspismos," Mr. Constantopoulos said, underlining, though, that "the real enemy is the two-party dominance and not KKE, even though there are differences between us."

    Mr. Constantopoulos predicted that elections would be followed by a period of harsh economic austerity for workers, and stressed the need for restructuring the economy and redefining the country's foreign policy. He called on Mr. Simitis to engage in a dialogue on both domestic and foreign policy issues and announced that lists of Synaspismos' candidates nationwide would be ready by the end of the week.

    [10] Orthodox cathedral vandalized in Albania

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    Albanian authorities yesterday attributed widespread vandalism at the Agios Michail Church in Moshopolis, Korytsa, earlier this month to Moslem youth camping nearby, although the Albanian press attributed the desecration to Islamist fundamentalists in the neighboring country.

    According to extensive reports in Albanian papers, vandals destroyed 24 17th and 18th century frescos, 15 completely, in addition to carving slogans on them, such as "Allah is great."

    Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios said yesterday he was expecting the Albanian Moslem community's reaction to the incident, branding it a "provocation and barbarity to the tolerance of the two religions in the country."

    Anastasios, however, associated the vandalism with a lack of appropriate legislation rather than religious fundamentalism.

    [11] Report says Tirana inquires about deportations

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    Albania has asked Athens to explain why it was deporting more Albanian illegal immigrants, a Reuters dispatch reported yesterday.

    "The foreign ministry is trying to find out from the Greek embassy why Albanian refugees have been deported from Greece," Reuters quoted Albanian Foreign Minister Tritan Shehu as saying.

    According to the Albanian daily "Koha Jone", Greece has deported about 5,000 Albanians in the last five days.

    Athens and Tirana signed an accord in May to legalize the status of Albanian illegal immigrants, and remove a long-standing stumbling block in relations between the two Balkan neighbors.

    [12] Rare Mount Athos artifacts to be exhibited in Thessaloniki next year

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    A committee organizing an exhibition of artifacts from the Mount Athos monastic community has secured 589 items from the monasteries to be displayed in Thessaloniki next June, when the city will be the Cultural Capital of Europe.

    The objects include Byzantine icons, musical and other manuscripts, some dating from 963 A.D., and holy vestments which have never been seen before in public. The exhibits have been loaned by 17 of the 20 monasteries on Mount Athos.

    Representatives of the Cultural Capital Organization of Thessaloniki, scientific advisers and exhibition officials were to conduct a two-day visit to Mount Athos starting yesterday, in order to discuss organizational matters with the monastic community.

    A publicity campaign for the exhibition in European countries is to begin next week, beginning from Moscow, which will be visited by a member of the Cultural Capital Organization.

    The exhibition will open for five months in June 1997 in six rooms of Thessaloniki's Byzantine Civilization Museum.

    [13] Juppe to visit Athens in mid September

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    French Prime Minister Alain Juppe will pay an official visit to Greece on Sept. 14 on the occasion of celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the French Archeological Society, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced yesterday.

    Mr. Reppas said the French premier will meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos during his visit.

    He will be accompanied by the French education minister during his stay in Athens.

    [14] New Israeli ambassador assumes post today

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    Israel's new ambassador to Greece, Ran Curiel, arrives in Athens today to take over from outgoing envoy David Sasson, who completed six years in the post and was Israel's first ambassador in Athens.

    Born in 1949, Mr. Curiel joined the Israeli foreign ministry in 1975.

    His previous appointments include first secretary at the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires (1976-81) and political counselor at the embassy in Washington (1985-89) for issues concerning the developing world and the provision of international economic aid.

    [15] Industrialists' federation calls parties for development commitment

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    The Federation of Greek Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE) yesterday requested that the government immediately implement a program to support businessmen in the region, assist development in Macedonia and Thrace as well as reinforce financial cooperation with countries in the Balkan and the wider southeastern European region.

    SBBE presidium made the requests during a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis. Following the meeting, SBBE representatives met with main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert, conveying the same request.

    SBBE President Nikos Efthymiadis later told reporters that the federation requested from both Mr. Simitis and Mr. Evert to pledge that as the head of government they would respond to their requests within a timetable of 200 days.

    "Our positions have been well received by both leaders, who seemed determined to take basic decisions quickly, which is the exact aim of our intervention," Mr. Efthymiadis told the press.

    The SBEE leader said the new government should drastically trim public expenditure and soften the consequences of a hard drachma policy on enterprises, especially export companies in northern Greece. Mr. Efthymiadis, however, did not call for a currency devaluation to ease consequences.

    Stressing the need for an increased pace of development, Mr. Efthymiadis also referred to the construction of the Egnatia Highway across the breadth of northern Greece as well as absorption of Community Funds by local businesses.

    Asked to comment on ND leader Miltiades Evert's announcement that a ND government will lower taxes on businesses and farmers, Mr. Efthymiadis said here was no room for fiscal laxity.

    However, he said if any measures led to an increase in the production rate, those proposals merited further examination, adding that some of Mr. Evert's proposals could result in favorable results for businesses in border regions.

    He also stressed the need for creation of a special general secretariat, either at the national economy ministry or the foreign ministry, to assist and channel economic development and special inter-Balkan co-operation in the region and the wider area.

    Mr. Efthymiadis also noted the need for the creation in Thessaloniki of a commodities exchange, transport and technology centers, offshore credit and finance companies as well as an interstate Balkan airline company.

    Concluding, the SBBE president said Mr. Simitis displayed particular interest for the federation's proposals, saying that similar meetings will be arranged with the remaining political leaders.

    Following the meeting with the SBBE delegation, during which the federation submitted a memorandum on their requests, Mr. Evert emphasized the need for development in northern Greece with special emphasis on the Thessaloniki Airport, road improvements and reinforcement of the region's economy and defense, while reiterating his commitment to transfer the education ministry to Thessaloniki.

    Mr. Evert further hinted at government inaction. He said "there's inaction, as if all Greeks have been struck by a disease and do not produce any work. This is incomprehensible in view of existing funds from the European Union."

    Placing increased emphasis on the need for development, Mr. Evert said the state should invest in infrastructure, while the private sector should deal with production.

    "The public sector cannot be concerned with production, but with improvement and modernization in infrastructure and public administration," he said.

    [16] Cruise ship passengers suffering from food poisoning out of danger

    Athens, 29/08/1996 (ANA)

    Six passengers, including two children, on a Liberian-Flagged cruise ship who were hospitalized in Crete after an outbreak of gastroenteritis on board the vessel are out of danger, Venizelio Hospital officials in Iraklio said yesterday.

    However, the 28,137-ton Italian-owned "Costa Riviera" remained in quarantine, while another 400 passengers suffering from the ailment were being treated on board the vessel.

    The cruise ship was scheduled to leave the port late last night.

    The ship sail into the port on Tuesday with 450 of its 1,300 passengers, including 30 children, exhibiting symptoms of gastroenteritis. Sources said 17 British holiday-makers on the vessel were not among the ill.

    Ninety percent of the passengers are Italian nationals, with the remainder British and American citizens.

    End of English language section.

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