The Socialist Group at the European Parliament will table a resolution calling for the condemnation of Turkey for the killing of the two unarmed Greek Cypriot demonstrators Tassos Isaac and Solomos Solomou at the UN buffer zone last month and to withhold funds to Ankara at the Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg next week.
According to reports from the German Social Democrat Party (SPD), the Socialist Group, which convened in Helsinki, unanimously adopted a resolution ascertaining that political factors taken into consideration during the ratification of the customs union pact between the European Union and Turkey last December "were no longer valid" and "resolves therefore to place the funds available through the financing protocol between the EU and Turkey in the reserve; and urges the Commission for the same reasons to withhold all funds for projects in Turkey within the framework of the MEDA programs with immediate effect until pending questions are clarified and the situation in the aforementioned areas has improved."
With the resolution adopted by the Socialist Group (ESP-European Socialist Party) at Helsinki, a U-turn has been completed in the handling of Turkey. This change in orientation began in July when, during a plenary discussion on a report concerning checks on the implementation of the EU-Turkey customs union, many Eurodeputies who had previously voted to ratify the agreement, publicly stated that they were "disappointed" over the continuing violation of human rights and the unreliability of Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller, who was instrumental in bringing the Islamist Necmettin Erbakan to the Turkish premiership.
Last month's events in Cyprus were a catalyst for the unanimous adoption of the latest resolution. The resolution says the European Parliament is "deeply concerned at the brutal and apparently intentional killing of two young, unarmed Cypriots who were brutally cut down on the demarcation line of the occupied part of the island in front of running cameras, by Turkish soldiers or possibly by members of the 'Grey Wolf' terrorist organization transported there by public funds."
The resolution - proposed by Eurodeputy Dimitris Tsatsos, representing the ruling socialist PASOK party at the ESP's session, and seconded by German Social Democrats Mechthild Rothe and Jannis Sakellariou, who is of Greek origin - explicitly raises the issues of democratization, human rights, the Kurdish issue, the Cyprus issue and the Aegean Sea issue and demands clarifications from the Turkish government to redefine relations between the EU and Turkey.
According to reports from the SPD's European office, the adoption of the resolution, already submitted officially by ESP President Pauline Green, Jannis Sakellariou and Dimitris Tsatsos, is assessed as an expression of solidarity towards Greece, an EU m ember-state, and its government while simultaneously supporting democratic forces in Turkey. This political dimension was underlined by Mr. Tsatsos, according to the same reports, in a statement in Helsinki.
The resolution submitted by the ESP "urgently requests the Turkish government to justify its position in regard to the four areas mentioned in Parliament's resolution adopted in conjunction with its assent to the Customs Union of 13 December, 1995, namely human rights, democratization, the Cyprus question and the Kurdish problem."
It further "calls on the Turkish government - in view of the confusing explanations so far offered by the Prime Minister - to give a clear and unambiguous statement of its position in relation to the Customs Union, making clear in particular whether or not it intends to call for a re-negotiation of the Treaty."
Moreover, it "expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the political prisoners who died following a hunger strike to obtain humanitarian conditions" and further "requests the Turkish government to free the HADEP politicians who were imprisoned in connection with the HADEP Party Congress and to drop the charges against them."
The resolution "sharply condemns the murder of the two Cypriots and holds the Turkish government together with (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Mr. DENKTASH responsible for the new tensions in the situation in Cyprus" and "decisively rejects plans by Turk ey to create a security zone in Northern Iraq as a flagrant breach of international law."
The resolution also stresses that Turkish provocations in the Aegean and Cyprus and the invasion of Northern Iraq are the result of the government crisis in Turkey.
The resolution's fate will depend, of course, on the position of the other political groups in the European Parliament since the ESP is the strongest force (217 seats out of a total of 626) but its ratification will require either agreement from more forces on the left of the conservative sector or a "compromising" rewording allowing for a joint resolution and its adoption by the European People's Party (EPP), the second strongest group in the European Parliament with 177 seats.
French Prime Minister Alain Juppe is to begin a two-day official visit to Greece tomorrow on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the French Archaeology School in Athens, and will meet Prime Minister Costas Simitis soon after his arrival.
Mr. Juppe is then scheduled to fly to Delphi by helicopter, where he will be proclaimed an honorary citizen. He is set to visit the archaeological site at Delphi on Sunday and return to Athens in the evening to meet main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert and attend the school's anniversary celebrations.
Turkish Minister to the Prime Minister Ahmet Jemil Tudc yesterday repeated that Ayia Sofia Byzantine cathedral will soon be converted into a mosque.
In an exclusive interview with the 'Turkiye' paper, Mr. Tudc said "I have kept the promises I have made until today. I have not promised something which I would not be able to fulfill. I will undertake every effort for Ayia Sofia to operate as a mosque... This may cause some noise, and in Greece, there may be an earthquake. But the mosque of Ayia Sofia will operate very shortly."
The focus of the two main political parties' election campaigns will be centered this evening on a televised debate pitting Prime Minister and ruling PASOK party President Costas Simitis against his main opposition New Democracy party rival Miltiades Evert .
The debate - a first for the Greek political scene - will be broadcast live by ERT and re-transmitted by virtually all the country's television networks.
Yesterday, representatives of the two parties met with Press Secretary-General Nikos Athanasakis and agreed on the journalists who will put questions to Simitis and Evert and the rules of conduct for the debate.
The debate will be coordinated by journalist Petros Efthimiou and questions put by reporters Yiannis Papoutsanis, Pavlos Tsimas and Thodoros Roussopoulos.
The same twelve questions will be put to both party leaders who will have two minutes to reply. Each question must be put within 30 seconds. The TV cameras will show the party leader replying and there will be no intermissions for advertisements.
Commenting on the debate, ND spokesperson Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the Greek people would be in a better position to make judgments if the debate was conducted in a form of dialogue between the two rivals.
He reminded reporters that Mr. Evert had proposed that three debates take place before elections and expressed regret at Mr. Simitis' rejection of the proposal.
He added that the ND leader accepted to participate in this evening's debate in order to give the Greek people the chance to "compare proposals and positions of the two leaders."
Asked about Mr. Evert's strategy regarding the debate, Mr. Pavlopoulos said the opposition leader will follow the same strategy he always follows and will tell the Greek people the truth.
Commenting on recent opinion poll results, he said the party "is satisfied and optimistic," adding that "polls mainly address those who felt the elections would be an easy ride and they are the ones who should comment."
Mr. Pavlopoulos said the lead-up to the election had been characterized by a bigger percentage of undecided voters in comparison to past elections, adding that this fact "increases the responsibility of the party to convince the Greek people of its positions and proposals."
Commenting on this evening's debate between the two major parties, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos said that "dialogue for two is not a democratic dialogue."
Speaking to reporters in Thessaloniki, Mr. Constantopoulos called the debate " a "manufactured product" while denouncing "party involvement" in the choice of reporters hosting the debate.
"We have reached the point where the two major parties share everything thing between them, in the absence of real journalism."
Reiterating his party's proposal for a televised debate involving all parties, Mr. Constantopoulos expressed a wish that all the smaller parties be able to gain a voice in Parliament, following elections at the close of this month.
On her part, Communist Party Secretary-General Aleka Papariga warned yesterday that "the Greek people will see the worst theater in recent years," and it was certain that the leaders of the two major parties would blame each other for the trials of the Greek people and unemployment, for which they both bore heavy responsibility.
"We invite the Greek people to see this play with the eyes of the accuser, and punish them as it befits them," she added.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis forecast a PASOK election win later this month saying it will constitute the starting point for the creation of a powerful Greece in this new era. He made the statement after the party's Political Secretariat and Elections Central Committee meeting.
Mr. Simitis said he derived his confidence for an election win from information from throughout Greece presented in the meeting for consideration.
The prime minister said PASOK's popularity among voters was growing each day and that the difference in percentages between PASOK and ND "will grow wider until election day".
Yesterday's proposal by New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert for a 50 per cent reduction in electricity rates for the residents of villages of under 500 people located within 10 kms of the border is "fully feasible and immediately applicable," a party statement said yesterday.
The statement added that according to an estimate by former Public Power Corporation (DEH) CEO, professor Th. Xanthopoulos, the total cost of the measure for all communities under 500 people throughout the country is 10 billion drachmas.
High growth rates, up to 5 per cent per annum for the next five years, are the key to reducing unemployment from 10 to 7 per cent, Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras told a pre-election rally in Serres last night.
He proposed a series of measures for the economy, including reductions in social security contributions by both employers and employees, abolition of the objective criteria taxation system, the establishment of "free employment zones" with exemption from taxes and subsidies for firms taking on jobless young people, increases for low paid civil servants and pensioners, and monthly benefits of 50,000 drachmas for families with three children.
Mr. Samaras dismissed the results of recent opinion polls, describing them as fake and fraudulent, and criticized the leaders of both major parties for their stands on national issues, farming, and small- and-medium-size enterprises.
He called on them to clarify their positions regarding the negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the name issue, and the Cyprus problem.
Speaking at Argos yesterday, Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas accused both major parties of being dominated by conservative views, and having no other concern than how to mislead and usurp the Greek citizen's vote.
He centered his attack on his former party.
"PASOK has been transformed into a conservative party. It does not rely on the farmer, the worker, the wage-earner, the intellectual worker. It relies on stock market and banking capitalists that wants Greeks poorer and the few even richer," he charged .
He charged both major parties with responsibility for the fact that "farmers are the mercy of Brussels", for the closure of 105,000 small businesses, and for the 27 per cent of unemployment that affects youth.
"An honest voice like mine could not remain in Mr. Simitis' PASOK," he said.
All processes necessary for carrying out general elections on September 22 are developing smoothly, President of the Union of Prefectural Administrations of Greece Evangelos Kouloumbis told a press conference yesterday.
Mr. Kouloumbis said the electoral climate was mild and civilized. He added that by noon on the eve of the elections at the latest, prefectures will know how many judicial representatives have presented themselves at the ballot count and will report on possible shortages to have replacements sent in time.
Greece's new Ambassador in Tirana Constantine Prevedourakis yesterday presented his credentials to Albanian President Sali Berisha.
Mr. Berisha expressed his satisfaction over the good relations between Greece and Albania and his conviction that the friendship and co-operation agreement signed last March during Greek President Constantine Stephanopoulos' visit will be a guarantee for the further strengthening in bilateral relations at all levels.
Referring to the political situation in Albania, President Berisha assured the new ambassador that he would personally secure the fairness of upcoming local elections.
Mr. Prevedourakis expressed the hope that the good relations between the two countries will continue to develop during his period of office.
Mr. Prevedourakis' meeting with Albanian Foreign Minister Tritan Sehu yesterday morning was also conducted in a friendly climate.
Albanian TV gave extensive coverage to the credentials presentation ceremony.
Caretaker Press Minister Dimitris Konstas yesterday refused to comment on an article in the "Eleftherotypia" daily claiming that a senior EU official expected Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to be removed from the foreign ministry.
"Eleftherotypia" claimed that the European Commission's representative in Ankara had sent a letter to the Commission President Jacques Santer regarding the issue.
Mr. Konstas said he doubted the existence of such a letter and added that he would not comment on "comments by members of international organizations - if they have been made - about ministers of the Greek government".
The 12th Hellenic Leadership Council conference is to be held on September 24-26 and attended by Greek-Americans and expatriate Greeks from around the world, with the aim of forging links with US decision-making bodies which draw up US policy regarding Greek national issues.
For the first time this year, the organizers include the World Council of Overseas Greeks (SAE).
The organizers said that during the course of the conference they aim to meet with US President Bill Clinton and his Republican rival Bob Dole.
They added that they will award honors to former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, US permanent representative to the United Nations Madeleine Albright and Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides, who will be in the US to attend the UN General Assembly.
The organizers said that "the recent murders in Cyprus, Turkey's increasing threats against Greece and Cyprus (and) the intensifying US efforts for a solution to the Cyprus problem," among others, will make this conference the most important ever.
The two wills of the late PASOK founder and leader and former premier Andreas Papandreou were opened in an Athens probate court yesterday.
One will, dated May 28, 1933 (an apparent mistake in the date) was tabled in court by lawyer Athanassios Liapis. Dimitris Manolis, the lawyer of Papandreou's daughter, Sophia Katsaneva, has asked that this be declared the principal will. The testator's signature was verified under testimony by Amalia Tichyrou, who was the secretary of Papandreou's political office for four years.
The second one, dated November 24, 1990, was tabled by Papandreou's third wife and widow Dimitra Liani-Papandreou through her lawyer Dimitrios Boubouris.
The four-page hand-written will - which also contains a typewritten memorandum addressed to Papandreou's long-term assistant Angela Kokola - and signature were verified under testimony by Antonis Livanis, a close associate of Papandreou for 33 years.
The president of the court, Judge Hadzizafeiriou, declared both wills to be valid since their content was deemed to be consistent.
In the first handwritten will, Papandreou appoints his wife Dimitra as heir, leaving his entire "movable and immovable" property.
"Apart from conjugal love and affection, this decision is also dictated by a particular sense of duty, since my wife gave me inestimable support at extremely difficult moments in my life," Papandreou wrote.
Papandreou said he had provided for his children - George, Sophia, Nikos and Andreas - during his life "with considerable benefits."
Expressing his "avid affection" for them, Papandreou said he believed that "the name which I leave to my children... will fully offset my inability to give them a greater share of the inheritance."
In the second will, also handwritten, the former premier denounced his son-in-law, Theodoros Katsanevas, as being a "disgrace" for the Papandreou family.
"His aim was to politically inherit the history of struggle of George Papandreou and Andreas Papandreou. Using force, he unlawfully seized my office and the cottage at Kastri, that is, my archives, personal effects and library," Papandreou said in the will, adding that he intended to initiate the necessary legal proceedings "when this is politically feasible."
Papandreou said that his three sons had a "moral obligation to make public the role and character of Theodoros Katsanevas and to sever all public and private ties which they have with him."
"Of course, none of this concerns my grandson, Andreas Katsanevas, to whom I extend my wishes for a bright future," Papandreou wrote. In the second part of the will, comprising two pages, Papandreou refers to his wife, Dimitra, instructing that t his part should be made public after he has passed away. "I owe my life to Dimitra three times up to now," Papandreou said, adding that she was "the only source of true joy for me."
Because Dimitra had helped him get over his health problems and stood by him morally and emotionally, Papandreou wrote, "she became the target for my enemies, but also for many 'friends' who either regarded me as an obstacle to their careers or who wanted to monopolize our relationship."
"When I pass away, Dimitra will be in danger. They will attribute all sorts of blame to her, which is why I call on my friends... to support her using all means," Papandreou wrote.
"Dimitra is the great love of my life. To her, I leave all my property and assets. My detached house in Paleo Psychico, all the movable objects in our home, all my assets which exist at the present time (because many have been unlawfully seized by Theodoros Katsanevas) and of course my archives (which are also in my office at Kastri)," he added in the will.
Papandreou's daughter, Sophia Papandreou-Katsaneva, later described the will submitted by her stepmother as "a dubiously improvised note and not a regular will, which was apparently made under pressure."
"The characterizations of my husband... are not expressions of the true will and magnanimity of Andreas Papandreou. He never used such characterizations for anyone. We return (the characterizations) to their instigators, who are deceitfully trying to trade upon him even after his death, with the manifest aim of attacking my husband," she said.
She added that Papandreou's archives had been handed over to the ruling PASOK party against receipt "so that they would not fall into the hands of persons who could exploit them after his death."
Sofia maintained that her father and her husband had had a relationship characterized by deep respect and affection for many years.
In an unscheduled press-conference this afternoon, Theodoros Katsanevas disputed the authenticity of the remarks and allegations contained in his father-in-law's will.
"The text is spurious, these are not phrases of Andreas Papandreou, and of course do not tally with his magnanimity," he said. "I do not believe such words express the soul of Andreas Papandreou."
Mr. Katsanevas said he had clashed with the former premier's entourage, thereby becoming a target.
"I dedicated all my life to Andreas Papandreou, and if he had become disaffected with me, he would have expressed his displeasure," he said, noting that his father-in-law had appointed him to public offices and had nominated him as a candidate for the party's Executive Bureau.
He also disputed at length the claims concerning the archives.
"It was my wife Sophia's wish that the archive be handed over to the party, as it contained documents of the highest importance both for the country and for PASOK," he claimed, citing the official delivery document which said the archive was being handed over by its lawful possessor, Sophia Katsaneva.
Alleging that at that point in time he had received threats against his life, Mr. Katsanevas said he never betrayed PASOK, and that "I will always respect and honor Andreas Papandreou with all my soul."
Commenting on the will, his son, Education Minister George Papandreou, said, "for us, the children of Andreas Papandreou, today is a special day. Father is speaking to us. He is speaking to us with special affection, and our responsibilities towards him, for the big name we have inherited are great".
Regarding the references in the will to his brother-in-law, he said: "Everyone knows the difficulties our family has been through at times. This was six years ago, and I think, for the sake of Andreas Papandreou's stature, we must see the forest and not just the trees."
President Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday presented Greece's Atlanta Olympic winners with the Gold Cross of the Order of Honor (to the gold medallists) and with the Gold Cross of the Order of the Phoenix (to the silver medallists).
Two-time gold medal winner in weight lifting Pyrros Dimas did not receive the honor as he was awarded the Gold Cross of the Order of Honor, the highest state honor, in 1992 when he won his first gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics.
According to protocol, a person cannot be honored with the same medal twice. Addressing the athletes, President Stephanopoulos expressed gratitude "because you have honored the Olympic Idea, an idea which is prevalent in the modern world."
"We live in a period of decadence, yet despite this there are certain values and ideals which remain (intact) through the years, such as the Olympic Idea," the president said.
"I want to thank you for having promoted Greece and set a valuable example for the young people of our country," he added.
The ceremony was attended by President of the Parliament, Apostolos Kaklamanis, main opposition New Democracy leader, Miltiades Evert, former president of the republic Christos Sartzetakis, Labor Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos and other officials.
Sports Under-secretary Andreas Fouras held a meeting yesterday with Greece's Paralympics medallists, whom he congratulated on their success. Mr. Fouras announced a series of measures to be introduced for athletes with special needs, including a series of incentives for their admission to higher education institutions, medical treatment, and the establishment of a federation.
Mr. Fouras said the Greek Paralympics winners "raised high the Greek flag and have made us proud."
He added that "society must realize its responsibility against racism and social exclusion."
The French Archaeological School in Athens begins celebrations marking its 150th anniversary this weekend, with the participation of French Prime Minister Alain Juppe.
Celebrations will include an exhibition, "Greek Sites", and an international conference on the role of archaeology.
President Kostis Stephanopoulos will inaugurate the exhibition at the school's premises in central Athens. The exhibition will also be held in Paris and is a pictorial history of the work of the French School in Greece. Following its tour of France and European capitals, the exhibition will tour cities in Greece.
The exhibition aims to show, with the assistance of models, plans and photographs, how a site is formed, the relation between rural and urban areas, how architecture has served ideology and, most crucially, how Greek cities in antiquity were constructed and how they functioned.
Also on the program and expected to draw experts from throughout Europe, is an international conference titled "Policies for Archaeology in the 19th and 20th centuries" aiming at defining the historical and political conditions which influenced developments in the field in the Mediterranean. The conference will focus on three axes: "Yesterday: politics and archaeology from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century"; "Tomorrow: archaeology abroad, the dawn of the 21st century"; and "Today and tomorrow: the politics of archaeological sites".
The Greek branch of the environmental organization Greenpeace yesterday appealed to the country's political parties to state their position regarding the immediate closure of the nuclear power plant at Kozloduy in neighboring Bulgaria.
In an open letter to the political party leaders, Greenpeace director in Greece Ilias Efthimiopoulos said that the danger posed by the Kozloduy plant had been repeatedly underlined even by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Mr. Efthimiopoulos said that Greece should undertake an initiative within the framework of the European Union to cut off funding for Kozloduy, with a parallel strengthening of the Bulgarian economy in the energy sector.
Kozloduy produces an estimated 40 per cent of Bulgaria's electricity supply.
Greenpeace also urged that electricity imports from Bulgaria be discontinued by Greece and measures by taken to cut energy waste and exploit environment-friendly and renewable energy sources.
The organization said that Kozloduy was using obsolete nuclear technology, resulting in frequent accidents and radioactivity leaks.
Greanpeace said it was working for the closure of the Kozloduy nuclear plant and had set as its immediate aim the gathering of hundreds of thousands of signatures over the next months in support of this demand.
The organization has in the past warned that an accident at Kozloduy could overshadow the dreadful consequences of the Chernobyl disaster which caused over 30,000 deaths and contaminated 160,000 square kilometers of land, forcing 400,000 people to abandon their homes.
Situated just 225 kilometers from the Greek-Bulgarian border, the Kozloduy nuclear plant is considered to be one of the most dangerous in the world.
The 3rd Australian and New Zealand Modern Greek Society's Congress of Modern Greek Studies will begin at the University of Melbourne on Sept. 29, under the title: "Greek Civilization: Tradition, Innovation, Development".
Meanwhile, the Australian publishing house "Black Pepper" will launch the English translation of Greek writer Yiannis Vasilakakou's "To Kolpo (The Trick)" at the beginning of October.
The book was first released in Greek by "Elikia Books" in 1978 and is about by a pension scandal in Sydney in which 1,700 innocent Greek-Australians were unjustly prosecuted by authorities, costing the Australian taxpayer more than $100 million.
Greece's permanent representative at the Council of Europe Antonis Exarhos yesterday ratified the protocol amending the Social Charter in the presence of the organization's Secretary-General Daniel Tarschys.
The protocol considerably improves the control system of the Council of Europe's Social Charter, aimed at guaranteeing 19 fundamental economic and social rights, such as the right to work, the right to equal working conditions and remuneration, safety and hygiene at work, training and vocational orientation.
The protocol will take effect after it has been ratified by all states participating in the European Social Charter. So far, it has been ratified by Austria, Cyprus, Finland, France, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.
The environment, town planning and public works ministry signed a co-operation protocol worth two billion drachmas with the Kalamaria municipality to exploit the land of the former Kodra army camp at Karabournaki in Thessaloniki.
The protocol, signed in Athens on Wednesday, provides the municipality with about 11 acres, which will be subsidized with two billion drachmas through a special fund for the implementation of town plans.
The subsidy will be provided for the creation of a park, an artificial lake complex and an underground garage among others.
The remaining expanse of land in excess of the 11 acres belongs to the finance ministry.
Caretaker Justice Minister Argyris Fatouros yesterday stressed the need for legislation to enable the establishment of shipping arbitration courts in Greece.
He made the statement during his opening address at a seminar titled "Shipping Courts and Shipping Arbitration," organized by the Piraeus Marine Club in co-operation with the Greek Union of Maritime Lawyers.
Mr. Fatouros said that shipping arbitration was "very important to Greek shipping," stressing that "all shipping differences should be resolved in our country."
Addressing the seminar, Merchant Marine Ministry Secretary-General Diamantis Manos described Piraeus as "one of the most important shipping centers in the world," adding that many international banks and shipping companies held offices in Piraeus.
He stressed the need for the establishment of shipping arbitration courts saying they could be used to further promote Piraeus as an international shipping center.
The Greek Shipowners Union has repeatedly in the past expressed support for the introduction of shipping arbitration in Greece, recognizing the "ability of Greek lawyers and legal advisers to handle shipping arbitration cases."