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A.N.A. Bulletin, 31/08/96

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 977), August 31, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Caretaker ministers sworn-in the lead-up to Sept. 22 poll

  • [2] Pangalos to meet Berisha in Albania today

  • [3] Albanian police hold teenagers over fresco crime

  • [4] KKE reiterates intent to avoid co-operation with other parties

  • [5] Synaspismos criticizes both PASOK, ND for present state of economy

  • [6] Samaras doesn't rule out co-operation with PASOK, ND

  • [7] Evert insists ND will implement economic proposals in '30 days' after elections

  • [8] Papaconstantinou will not stand for election

  • [9] Most of PASOK's election candidates decided

  • [10] Simitis hosts Olympic winners

  • [11] Turkish academic urges peace moves toward Greece

  • [12] Papathemelis blasts Evert for 'dialogue with Turkey' comments

  • [13] Turkey repeats demand for compensation for damages at its consulates in Greece

  • [14] Australia will maintain previous Gov't stance on Skopje

  • [15] Food poisoning on cruise ship caused by contaminated meat

  • [16] Greek businesses look for openings in Baltic markets at forthcoming Europartenariat

  • [17] Labor Center calls for coordinated action to reopen Goodyear plant

  • [18] Upgrade of economic and political presence in the Balkans a goal

  • [19] Commissioner Papoutsis to speak at TIF


  • [1] Caretaker ministers sworn-in the lead-up to Sept. 22 poll

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    Four university professors were sworn in yesterday before President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos to fill key ministerial posts during the period leading up to the Sept. 22 snap general elections.

    Prof. Vassilis Skouris took over the interior, public administration and decentralization ministry, while Prof. Argyris Fatouros will head the justice ministry.

    Prof. Costas Beis took over the public order ministry, and Prof. Dimitris Constas the press and media ministry.

    President Stephanopoulos dissolved Parliament late last week following Prime Minister Costas Simitis' decision to call early elections, citing national issues, economic reforms and the need for Greece's full and equal participation in EU developments.

    Stressing that the groundwork for the smooth conduct of elections has been completed, outgoing interior minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos expressed certainty that the poll will be conducted with full transparency, unhindered by any problems.

    Caretaker minister Skouris said he would concentrate efforts in the direction of "transparent, objective and smooth" elections.

    During a special ceremony at the public order ministry, outgoing minister Costas Geitonas referred to efforts during his term to upgrade the police forces, in both equipment and efficiency, and pointed to the founding of police academies in the border region of Thrace as well as the posting of special police forces in the border region of northern Greece to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants.

    Caretaker minister Beis said he would direct efforts in establishing and maintaining calm during elections.

    "I will be pleased if my work will soon be forgotten and if I manage to do this work silently and without causing any trouble," he said during the ceremony.

    During a brief welcome to caretaker Press and Information Minister Dimitris Constas, outgoing press minister Dimitris Reppas said his time as press minister had been one of "challenges, hindrances, action and personal satisfaction."

    "We had to face tense developments in national issues and also make the painful adjustment, at party level, from a period dominated by the presence of the party founder-leader to the new democratic procedures," he said.

    Mr. Constas said his aim would be to promote Greece's pre-election period internationally, stressing that the entire political world should be united in the struggle against political indifference and apathy, "a common enemy facing all political forces in Greece."

    Handing over the ministry to caretaker minister Fatouros, Evangelos Venizelos said polling stations were for the first time being set up in Greek prisons around the country, to enable a total of 577 inmates to vote in the general elections.

    Mr. Venizelos said circulars had been sent to prison wardens instructing them to take the necessary security measures on election day and stressing that election visits or speeches by candidates in the prisons were forbidden.

    The circulars also stress the need to take increased security measures to thwart any escape attempts by inmates hoping to take advantage of the fact that voting will be conducted in the prisons.

    The polling stations operating within the prisons will also make it possible for guards and other prison staff to vote at their place of work.

    Mr. Fatouros said his role had two aspects, one to produce efficient work in such sensitive fields as prison operation, as well as direct involvement in the conduct of elections.

    [2] Pangalos to meet Berisha in Albania today

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos begins a two-day visit to Albania today, during which he will have talks with his Albanian counterpart Tritan Shehu and President Sali Berisha.

    Mr. Pangalos will fly to the northern Greek town of Ioannina this morning from where he will travel by road to the Albanian town of Gjirokaster, where he will inaugurate the new offices of the General Consulate and attend a reception in his honor.

    Later in the day, Mr. Pangalos will have private talks with Mr. Shehu before attending a luncheon given in his honor by his Albanian counterpart.

    In the afternoon, a helicopter will fly Mr. Pangalos to Avlona where he will meet with Mr. Berisha, later attending a dinner given in his honor by the Albanian president.

    On Sunday morning, Mr. Pangalos will attend a working breakfast with Mr. Shehu before returning to Athens via Kakavia and Ioannina.

    [3] Albanian police hold teenagers over fresco crime

    Tirana, 31/08/1996 (Reuter/ANA)

    Albanian police have detained three teenagers on suspicion of defacing 23 rare 300-year-old frescoes in an Orthodox church, the official ATA news agency said yesterday.

    "Police have concluded that two 16-year-old boys from Tirana and one 18-year-old from Shkoder are the perpetrators of crimes and they have been detained," ATA reported.

    ATA made no mention of reports in many newspapers that the three were students at a Moslem seminar being conducted by Iranian lecturers.

    The head of Albania's Orthodox Church, Anastasios, said in a statement that the defacing of the frescoes, in a church at Voskopoje, 250 km southeast of Tirana, might point to a revival of religious fanaticism in Albania.

    Anastasios, criticizing the state for failing to protect religious treasures, repeated his demand for the return of Orthodox property from the state to the Church.

    Albania's majority Moslem community condemned the defacing yesterday as an anti-religious and anti-national act.

    "Such acts run counter to the principles of our Islamic faith and Albanian traditions," it said in a statement.

    Albania is 70 per cent Moslem, 20 per cent Orthodox and 10 per cent Roman Catholic.

    [4] KKE reiterates intent to avoid co-operation with other parties

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga yesterday reiterated that her party does not tolerate any form of "acquiescence and forbearance" with other parties, but supports the people's unity and "the co-operation of popular forces wishing to resist; to counter-attack in order to change the political scene."

    Speaking to employees of the Sotiria Hospital, Ms Papariga predicted that KKE will win more votes than it did in the previous elections in 1993, and criticized other small parties for "leaving a crack open to become appendages in a government that will continue the same policies," in reference to rumored post-election co-operation between small parties and the two major parties, PASOK and main opposition New Democracy.

    [5] Synaspismos criticizes both PASOK, ND for present state of economy

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos yesterday accused the leaders of both major parties of responsibility for what he called the present state of the economy.

    "Neither Mr. Simitis nor Mr. Evert can be absolved of responsibility," he said.

    He also accused both parties of making no mention of the economic consequences of the adoption of new massive armaments program worth three trillion drachmas.

    "The clash between the two major parties is a clash between two types of populism, the 'traditional', represented by New Democracy, and that of 'a supposed seriousness and responsibility,' " Synaspismos' head of economic policy Yiannis Dragasakis said in a press conference yesterday.

    He accused the main opposition ND of deceiving the Greek people with its promise not to impose new taxes.

    Further, he said that Greece's Convergence Program with the targets for European economic and monetary union "has failed in its central goals, as the real divergence of the Greek economy has widened.

    "Any progress recorded was based on the policies of a stable drachma policy and tight incomes, which have exhausted their possibilities," he added.

    Finally, he accused both major parties of not having paid outstanding dues to Olympic Airways for tickets granted to supporters in past pre-election periods.

    [6] Samaras doesn't rule out co-operation with PASOK, ND

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    Political Spring (Pol.An) party leader Antonis Samaras yesterday said he would consider cooperation with PASOK or New Democracy if neither of the two major parties did not achieve an absolute majority in the Sept. 22 elections.

    Mr. Samaras said Pol.An will respect "the people's mandate" for post-election co-operation, saying his party's aim is to attain enough power in order to exert control over the government in addition to becoming a driving force behind reform.

    Stressing that elections next month will produce a government of the year 2000, Mr. Samaras presented the press with Pol.An's slogan, "Greeks with a vision for another Greece of justice, dignity and hope."

    Mr. Samaras claimed that his party was not "play-acting" when it asked for early general elections to be held. "In contrast, Mr. Evert, who for months was calling for elections, caused an uproar when these were decided."

    He also noted that the reasons given by Mr. Simitis for the dissolution of Parliament "do not stand up to serious political criticism," and criticized the prime minister for taking this decision, which he said "canceled" a revision of the Constitution.

    Mr. Samaras also launched an attack against PASOK and New Democracy for having what he referred to as a "mentality of the '60s and the uncontrolled bidding in hand-outs and promises."

    He said the elections are "asking for an answer" to the problems of unemployment, the "bankruptcy" of small- and medium-sized enterprises, the economic problems of farmers, members of the armed forces, pensioners and the young, and to the "continued austerity" instead of development, as well as to the pressure felt "only by Cyprus and Greece" of their borders being negotiated.

    He added that his party's observations regarding the economy and national issues have been vindicated.

    The Political Spring leader presented his party as a force for reform and asked for the abolition of the permanent employment status of civil servants, the reduction of the number of deputies to 200 from the present 300, the banning of the ability to simultaneously hold the posts of deputy and minister and the placing of a prosecutor on committees handling large projects and public procurements.

    [7] Evert insists ND will implement economic proposals in '30 days' after elections

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    In the aftermath of strong charges leveled by the ruling PASOK party earlier this week that economic proposals unveiled by the main opposition New Democracy party for merchants and farmers would either spell disaster for the economy or imply a prohibitive cost, ND Miltiades Evert yesterday reiterated that his government "would implement them in the first 30 days after coming to power."

    The measures, announced in a press conference on Tuesday, included tax incentives for farmers and an abolition of the 35 per cent company tax.

    While touring the western Athens districts of Nea Philadelphia and Nea Ionia yesterday, Mr. Evert assured shopowners that his proposals were realistic and would be implemented.

    "We shall not let Greece be shut down. We mean what we say and we shall do it," he stressed.

    In addition, it emerged yesterday that the party's lists of candidates will most probably be announced on Monday.

    [8] Papaconstantinou will not stand for election

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    Independent deputy and former foreign minister Michalis Papaconstantinou announced yesterday that he would not be standing for re-election in the Sept. 22 poll.

    Mr. Papaconstantinou said that his opinions did not coincide with those expressed by the parties, saying that the pre-election period was characterized by "a form of populism and a tendency towards expression of sterile super-nationalism".

    "None of us is more or less a patriot: the nationalism of the Greeks does not need grading," he said.

    "I remain outside the parties but ever ready to assist wherever I can and to the extent I can for our country," he said. He added that he would continue to express his opinions as an independent politician.

    Mr. Papaconstantinou first entered Parliament in 1958 as Liberal Party deputy for Kozani. He represented Kozani for the Center Union in the years 1961-64 and again won his Parliament seat in 1974 with the New Democracy party. He has held the portfolios of industry, agriculture, justice and foreign affairs in the New Democracy governments of 1989-1993.

    He resigned from the New Democracy party in September 1994, but retained his seat as Parliament's sole independent representative.

    [9] Most of PASOK's election candidates decided

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    The lion's share of PASOK's candidate lists were decided after a five-hour meeting by the ruling party's executive bureau yesterday, which was chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    According to reports, all current deputies wishing to re-run as well as those PASOK cadres coming in first in the party's preliminary internal elections are included in the election lists.

    Sources said candidate lists have not been finalized for the Irakleio, Pella, Preveza, Achaia and Cephallonia prefectures. The executive bureau is scheduled to meet today at 5 p.m., with all outstanding issues being referred to a central committee meeting to begin at 6 p.m., which will approve all of PASOK's election combinations.

    In addition, sources said Mr. Simitis is expected to also announce the names on a state deputies list today.

    [10] Simitis hosts Olympic winners

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday held a reception in honor of Greece's Olympic medalists at the Maximos Mansion. The event was attended by several ministers and members of the Hellenic Olympic Committee as well as other sports personalities.

    Replying to a reporter's question, Mr. Simitis said that "in many Olympic Games, we had hoped that we would manage to win medals. But the distinctions we were expecting did not happen. This time our expectations were surpassed, and this is owed purely t o good preparation and to the emotional strength and efforts of the athletes.

    "This has created a climate that successes are possible and that the failures of the past have been overcome and that we will be very successful at the next Olympics. This, of course, significantly helps the candidacy of Athens for the 2004 Olympic Game s. I hope we will succeed."

    Following his speech, the prime minister met with the medalists and coaches of the Paraolympics and the Olympic Games.

    [11] Turkish academic urges peace moves toward Greece

    Corfu, 31/08/1996 (Reuter/ANA)

    A peace move by Turkey addressing Greek concerns on the Aegean islands' sovereignty and Cyprus could be the way to break the ice between Athens and Ankara, a Turkish security expert said yesterday.

    "The peace move could and should be initiated by Turkey, the bigger and militarily stronger party," Turkish political science professor Hasan Unal of Bilkent University told a two-day international conference on the "Post-Dayton Balkans in Europe".

    "Turkey should unilaterally declare that it is prepared to study all aspects of Greece's fears, particularly in military terms," he added.

    NATO allies Greece and Turkey came close to war in late January after Ankara disputed Greece's sovereignty of the islet of Imia. The 22-year-old Turkish occupation of 37 per cent of Cyprus' territory is also a source of tension between the two countries .

    Mr. Unal said mutual suspicion and a lack of confidence were leading Athens and Ankara into an arms race of "bewildering speed" and that this could lead to an armed confrontation, despite the fact that neither side would benefit.

    "The likelihood of an arms clash lies in the fact that Greece is adamant in asserting that it has the right under the new Law of the Sea to extend the territorial waters of all Aegean islands from six to 12 miles," Mr. Unal said.

    "This would basically turn the Aegean into a Greek lake. This being a nightmare from Turkey's point of view, Ankara has escalated the pressure by disputing Greece's sovereignty on certain Aegean islets and rocks," he added.

    The Aegean is dotted with Greek islands and Turkey had threatened Greece with war if it used its legal rights and extended its territorial waters. Athens has repeatedly stated that it has the right to do so whenever it wants, but has not said when.

    Greece has also been blocking European Union funds to Turkey stemming from a customs union agreement which went into effect in January and Mr. Unal said Ankara would keep up the pressure on Athens in retaliation.

    He said a solution should be found within NATO and that the EU could also play a mediating effort.

    Balkan security specialists have gathered on this Ionian island to discuss security concerns in the peninsula following the Dayton agreement, which ended the war in former Yugoslavia.

    The conference ends today.

    [12] Papathemelis blasts Evert for 'dialogue with Turkey' comments

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    Ruling PASOK party deputy Stelios Papathemelis yesterday strongly attacked main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert concerning his positions on Greek-Turkish differences.

    Mr. Papathemelis said that the commencement of a dialogue with Turkey, as proposed by Mr. Evert, would be "a national error of enormous proportions."

    Aligning himself with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, Mr. Papathemelis stressed that there could be no bilateral dialogue with Turkey, and especially not one with an agenda for talks.

    "This would be totally unacceptable, because dialogue on issues which are non-negotiable, such as our sovereign rights, would be inconceivable," Mr. Papathemelis, a former public order minister, said.

    On the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Mr. Papathemelis said that mistakes had repeatedly been made in the handling by all governments to date.

    He said that Greece would be able to abrogate the interim agreement with FYROM, invoking the argument that Skopje had not adhered to the terms of the accord.

    In this respect, he cited a recent interview by FYROM Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frckovski in the Greek Sunday paper "To Vima," in which he stated that Skopje was not willing to negotiate the name of the neighboring state.

    Mr. Papathemelis made the statements in Thessaloniki yesterday during the presentation of his latest book "Resistances" which, he said, contained "texts of national self-awareness" and was written during the last three years.

    [13] Turkey repeats demand for compensation for damages at its consulates in Greece

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    Ankara has repeated its demand for compensation for damages caused to Turkish consular buildings in Greece during protest demonstrations earlier this month over recent incidents in Cyprus.

    The semi-official Anatolia news agency reported yesterday that ambassador Inal Batu, who is responsible for Greek-Turkish relations, repeated Ankara's demands at the beginning of the week to Greece's charge d'affaires in Ankara, M. Christidis.

    Mr. Batu said it is a matter of principle for damages caused in areas under Greek responsibility to be repaired.

    "The safety of the life and property of the Turkish representatives is Athens' responsibility, based on international agreements," Anatolia quoted Mr. Batu as saying.

    [14] Australia will maintain previous Gov't stance on Skopje

    Melbourne, 31/08/1996 (ANA -S. Hatzimanolis)

    The Australian government does not intend to change its stance on the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and will follow the same policy as that of the previous Labor government, a representative of Australian Prime Minister John Howard told the ANA.

    Paul Keating's Labor government, which lost elections earlier this year, called residents of FYROM "Slavo-Macedonians" but the language they speak "Macedonian".

    Mr. Howard recently caused an outcry amongst the Greek community when he referred to FYROM residents as "Macedonians".

    The spokesman told the ANA that there would be no change in the stance of the government, but refused to explain Mr. Howard's slip.

    [15] Food poisoning on cruise ship caused by contaminated meat

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    A food poisoning outbreak on board the Liberian-flagged "Costa Riviera" cruise ship, which has resulted in the hospitalization of several passengers, appears to have been caused by meat infected with the staphylococcus virus.

    The announcement was made by Yiannis Katsagiannakis, the director of the Irakleio veterinary laboratory, which carried out the tests. Mr. Katsagiannakis is also responsible for the microbiological control of foodstuffs on Crete.

    He added that he visited the vessel along with other specialists as soon as it arrived in the port, and examined the areas in which food is prepared and stored. Mr. Katsagiannakis added that more than 20 samples from products on board the cruise ship are still being tested in the laboratory. The Italian-owned cruise ship sailed into the port of Irakleio on Tuesday with 450 of its 1,300 passengers, including 30 children, exhibiting symptoms of gastroenteritis.

    [16] Greek businesses look for openings in Baltic markets at forthcoming Europartenariat

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    Greek businessmen will have the opportunity to assess the prospects for Greek exports to the emerging markets of the Baltic sea, during a trip to Poland, in September where they will attend the Europartenariat. The Europartenariat, one of the most important European Union institutions, aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises in matters of international co-operation, is scheduled for Sept. 19-20 will bring together more than 200 local and 700 international businessmen. It is being held under t he auspices of the European Union.

    Despite a favorable climate in 1989, the volume of Greek exports to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia remains limited, reaching just 100 million ECU. Greek exports to the Baltic countries, apart from Poland, remain insignificant.

    According to the Thessaloniki Institute of Export Research and Studies, Greek exports (mainly citrus and other farm products) to these countries reached 62.3 million ECU in 1994, a slight increase over previous years.

    The upward trend continued in 1995, with imports to Greece reaching 48 million ECU, a significant increase in comparison to 1994 figures.

    Despite slight increases, the upward trend in the trading volume between Greece and the markets of the Baltic sea remains alarmingly low, especially in view of dynamic openings by other European countries such as Germany whose exports in the region represent 50 per cent of total European exports to the Baltic countries.

    [17] Labor Center calls for coordinated action to reopen Goodyear plant

    Thessaloniki,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    The Thessaloniki Labor Center yesterday reiterated a request for the re-opening of the recently-closed Goodyear plant, calling for the coordination of efforts by labor unions, the state and the people in order to achieve this aim.

    The plant's closure and the redundancy of 300 employees was announced last month. Strong protests by workers, including a blockade of Thessaloniki's industrial zone, as well as a series of meetings by state officials with Goodyear executives in Greece and the United States, have failed so far to re-open the plant.

    "The government can use the purchase of weapons from the United States as leverage in efforts to force the Goodyear company to re-open its Thessaloniki plant," Thessaloniki Labor Center president Ilias Kontopoulos told a press conference yesterday.

    President of the workers union at the Thessaloniki plant, Sotiris Ivatzis, said the government could also use the purchase of tires for the Greek army, the Thessaloniki Municipality and the Greek Automobile Industry in order to increase pressure on the US-based company to submit to the request to reopen the plant.

    Meanwhile, the president of the Panhellenic Federation of Refineries and Chemical Industries Employees, Giorgos Panolaskos, said the federation will expand its campaign through the mass media and continue the boycott against Goodyear tires, while concentrating efforts to expand it to the Balkans and Cyprus.

    Workers said earlier this month that their boycott on Goodyear tires had already begun to show results, claiming that sales in northern Greece were down by 5 per cent.

    State officials in Greece have pledged to make every effort to achieve the reopening of the plant but explicitly said the incident had no effect on the official government policy to privatize ailing state-controlled companies.

    In a related development, representatives of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece, headed by new president Christos Polyzogopoulos, will visit Thessaloniki on Monday in an effort to support action by the center.

    The GSEE leadership also called on the labor ministry yesterday to intervene with a new wave of lay-offs at the Halyvourgiki firm.

    The company laid off 200 workers on Thursday in addition to another 250 at the beginning of the year.

    Halyvourgiki has threatened to close down part of production.

    [18] Upgrade of economic and political presence in the Balkans a goal

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    One of "Greece's strategic development goals is the upgrading of its economic and political presence in the Balkans," Development Minister Vasso Papandreou writes in a special album to be issued on the occasion of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair (HELEXPO), opening on Sept. 6.

    This goal, she adds, is based on three axes of action, namely, the improvement and completion of a network of basic infrastructure, the upgrading and utilization of human potential and administrative institutions as well as the improvement of the productive environment, that is, the operation of the market, development of the sectors of agriculture, industry, energy and technology, small and medium size enterprises, and tourism.

    HELEXPO "centers its attention on the third axis, the productive environment, the market and business activity, which, in a way, are the final economic result of improvements in infrastructure and upgrading in the human potential," Ms Papandreou says.

    [19] Commissioner Papoutsis to speak at TIF

    Athens,31/08/1996 (ANA)

    "Economic co-operation between businesses in the region of southeast Europe ahead of the third phase of monetary union and the challenge of single currency" is the title of a speech EU commissioner for energy, SMEs and tourism Christos Papoutsis will give at the 61st Thessaloniki International Fair.

    The event has been organized by the European Commission's office in Athens and the Federation of Northern Greek Exporters.

    End of English language section.

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