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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 97-05-10

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1182), May 10, 1997

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [01] Simitis underlines importance of social issues in reviewing Maastricht
  • [02] Santer on flexibility
  • [03] Herod Atticus event
  • [04] Working luncheon
  • [05] Santer sees Greece on path to single currency
  • [06] Santer on Europe Day
  • [07] Costas Karamanlis hails Greece's European orientation as decisive choice of ND
  • [08] Former king continues to trade accusations with Karamanlis
  • [09] Name dispute should not sour Athens-Skopje relations, Frckovski says
  • [10] Simitis: Respect for int'l law a condition for support of Ankara in Europe
  • [11] US hails decisions by Nicosia, Ankara to halt overflights
  • [12] Greece, Israel to conduct joint exercise in Dodecanese
  • [13] No special court for Livanos, V. Papandreou in relation to Floisvos case
  • [14] Greece, Georgia sign protocol on cultural exchange
  • [15] Joint ministerial meeting examines military, security services' pensioning issue
  • [16] Experts say they've found site of Colossus of Rhodes
  • [17] Papaioannou says world economy dictates "change in labor conditions"
  • [18] EU economic and social committee reps meet in Athens
  • [19] EU program to promote European exports to Japan
  • [20] Three tons of marijuana confiscated

  • [01] Simitis underlines importance of social issues in reviewing Maastricht

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed the need for attention to social issues when reviewing the Maastricht Treaty, speaking yesterday at an event at Athens' Old Parliament House commemorating Europe Day.

    The event was also addressed by European Commission President Jacques Santer, who is on an official visit to Greece.

    This year's anniversary, said Mr. Simitis, came at a decisive time for the future of Europe, with important negotiations being planned over the next two years for the Europe of 2000.

    He called for an end to the climate of skepticism and insecurity and support for cohesion within the European Union. Its citizens should realize, he said, that changes in institutions would not create a limitless bureaucracy.

    With regard to the expansion of the EU, there would have to be a corresponding increase in resources to meet the increased cost. He called for equal treatment for all member states, including participation in the third phase of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the single currency.

    The Intergovernmental Conference, he added, should find solutions to the problem of employment.

    Referring to Greece, the premier underlined that there was today a "social dynamic" emanating from Greek social strata, which believe that can compete without protectionism. This dynamic, he added, wants for the country to play an active role in the formation of the new European reality.

    [02] Santer on flexibility

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    Mr. Santer drew attention to the need for majority decision-making within the EU, one of the issues being examined by the Intergovernmental Conference.

    Unanimity, he said, was becoming increasingly difficult to achieve as the EU expanded.

    "In order to avoid this difficulty, we should extend wherever possible the use of the majority vote. If we don't, we are in danger of getting involved in a circle of immobilization, resulting in a lack of credibility and undermining of trust," he added.

    The question of flexibility, he continued, should act as a catalyst for greater integration within the EU and not an agent of division. It should only be used as a last resort when all other efforts, with the participation of all member states, had failed.

    Equality between member-states should be fully respected, Mr. Santer stressed, while the Commission should undergo certain adjustments such as reduction in the number of Commissioners and review of its organization.

    He also favored a more important role for the European Parliament, and called for more transparency. Meanwhile the EU's social model, he said, was Europe's strength.

    "The European social model is characteristic of its achievements, the envy of all other regional co-operation groups," he said.

    [03] Herod Atticus event

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    Speaking later at the Herod Atticus Theater at the official event marking Robert Schumann Day, Mr. Santer underlined the prospects for peace prescribed by the process of European integration.

    "Neighboring countries are still in a state of war. Next to you, in the Balkans, war and misery have made children of your age beggars in order to survive," he said, addressing an audience which included thousands of schoolchildren.

    "Thanks to the creation of the European Union, war has disappeared among 15 countries. Now, other countries of the continent wish to join the EU in order to protect themselves against this tragedy" Mr. Santer said.

    Through better understanding, he continued, and exchanges between young people of all nationalities, "your generation will build a more stable Europe which will offer better living conditions and will be better able to exercise its influence in the world in order to safeguard freedom and secure peace."

    [04] Working luncheon

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    At a working luncheon later, Mr. Santer and Mr. Simitis had the opportunity for a wide-ranging discussion on the future and prospects of the EU which the Commission president described as "useful".

    Noting the Greek government's "significant achievements" prior to EMU, Mr. Santer said the indicators of the Greek economy were in "a very good direction", a fact he described as a positive element in the course to convergence.

    On his part, Mr. Simitis said that Greece attached great importance to the need to establish practical solidarity with respect to external borders.

    Stressing the need for cohesion within the EU, Mr. Simitis said he had discussed with Mr. Santer the latest developments in Greek-Turkish relations and the course towards Cyprus' accession to the Community.

    Mr. Santer expressed his satisfaction for the creation of the "committee of experts" between Greece and Turkey, adding that Greece as a full EU member enjoys the solidarity and support of the Community.

    Turkey, Mr. Santer said, is an associate member "and as such there is a difference between the two relationships, which is why a way must be found to normalize relations between the two countries."

    Asked if the issue of a third major EU funding program - which according to reports will reach ECU 3 billion for Greece - was considered, Mr. Santer said that percentages of funding weren't discussed, as the Commission will present a comprehensive proposal for new funding prospects beyond the year 2000 after the end of the current Intergovernmental Conference. He added the EU Commission will at the time also express its opinion on the applications for new members.

    [05] Santer sees Greece on path to single currency

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    European Commission President Jacques Santer yesterday expressed hope that Greece would remain on the path leading to participation in the single European currency the soonest possible.

    In addressing the general assembly of the Federation of Northern Greece Industries, Mr. Santer said that he anticipated higher economic indicators.

    "We expect that the economic development in Greece will reach 3.1 per cent in 1997 as against 2.6 per cent in the previous year," he said. He added that a 3.3 per cent growth was anticipated for 1998.

    Praising efforts to boost the Greek economy, the president of the European Commission said that the Greek economy had shown steady progress since 1994, while inflation had fallen and a positive trend had been noted in the area of public finances.

    He said, however, that "efforts should continue for a long time."

    Mr. Santer expressed satisfaction that Greece was enjoying benefits from applying credible macroeconomic policies and said he had no doubt that further benefits would lie ahead if the same pace for the adjustment process continued.

    The European Commission president said he was optimistic over opportunities presenting themselves in Greece, particularly in northern Greece and its entrepreneurs, in the new economic framework that was being formulated in the Balkans.

    "Greece is doing very well in the specific framework," he added, citing the example of Romania.

    "The trade balance between the two countries has been favorable for Greece since 1992," he said adding that, "in 1995, Greece has recorded the third higher trade surplus with Romania after Germany and France."

    "A similar situation has occurred with the remaining Balkan countries," he added.

    Mr. Santer encouraged northern Greek businessmen to take the opportunities, stressing that such a move would also be to the interest of Greece's EU economic partners.

    In support of a new role for the European Union in the world scene, Mr. Santer said that "Europe is a plant which will bloom only if it is constantly being watered."

    The EU Commission president said initiatives should focus on the IGC consultations, European Union expansion and its future economic framework, while emphasizing the economic and monetary union and the single European currency, which will be a credible alternative for the US dollar.

    Turning to future goals in the political and military fields, Mr. Santer said that "our goal is to adjust our policies in view of the enlargement and ensure continuation for the structural policies beyond 1999."

    "We must continue to apply the principle of economic solidarity in favor of less developed EU peripheries," he said adding that "Greece is at present and will be in the future one of the basic receptors of this solidarity."

    He spoke extensively of the "Euro", implying that it will be competition for the dollar. "Today, the dollar covers 60 per cent of foreign exchange reserves of all central banks, it is used daily for 50 per cent of international trade and 80 per cent of transactions in foreign exchange," he said.

    Mr. Santer predicted that the Euro will ensure monetary stability in most commercial transactions in Europe, as 60 per cent of EU countries' trade is conducted within the boundaries of the union.

    "Complete monetary stability entails low interest rates, which essentially will be on the same level in the whole EU, and this will be particularly important for Greek businesses, which have suffered from high interest rates particularly over the past few years," Mr. Santer said.

    He was equally optimistic regarding the EU's economic situation, adding that according to estimates, the EU's GDP will increase from 1.6 per cent in 1996 to 2.4 per cent in 1997 and up to 2.8 per cent in 1988.

    However, Mr. Santer added that this optimistic prediction "must not divert our attention from one of the more difficult problems, which is unemployment in the EU and which remains at unacceptably high levels, although some reduction is expected."

    The president of the Federation of Northern Greece Industries (SBBE) Nikos Efthymiadis asked the EU president for the implementation of a "new Marshall Plan", which could be called "Santer Plan", aimed to support southeastern Europe both financially and in a humanitarian way.

    "This plan would have to be a comprehensive action plan which could create an economic subsystem adapted to the particular conditions of this region, beyond the EU program already implemented," he said. Also attending were EU Commissioner Christos Papoutsis, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis, among others.

    [06] Santer on Europe Day

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    Speaking on the occasion of Europe Day yesterday, European Union President Jacques Santer said "the date of May 9 takes us back to the first days of the building of Europe Today, more than ever, 'organized solidarity' of European nations is the best means for Europeans' voice to be heard in the world.

    "Built on common institutional bodies with true power and on a common law expressing common values, it continues to guarantee their peace."

    He went on to say that "the demands of this solidarity, which its opponents exaggerate, must never make us forget its results, because the European vision is truly a vision of solidarity."

    [07] Costas Karamanlis hails Greece's European orientation as decisive choice of ND

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    In a message on Europe Day, main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said Greece's stable European orientation is the major and decisive strategic choice of ND and its founder Constantine Karamanlis, which is vindicated absolutely by developments.

    Mr. Karamanlis added that Greece, in participating as an equal member in the group of Europe's most developed countries, has fully consolidated its security and its stable course towards development and a better tomorrow.

    In a similar statement, the Coalition of the Left and Progress said "the course towards European integration is a challenge for the peoples of Europe. The targets are a Europe of democracy, development, social solidarity"

    Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras said: "unfortunately, Europe Day finds the European Union remaining a paper giant politically and still having an insignificant role in the defense of Europe and lacking decisive intervention in international crises."

    [08] Former king continues to trade accusations with Karamanlis

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    Ex-king Constantine yesterday continued a series of tit-for-tat accusations with former president of the republic Constantine Karamanlis with statements which appeared tantamount to direct political intervention.

    "With regard to the views of former president Constantine Karamanlis and ex-king Constantine on forms of government, what is important is what the Greek people, which is alone sovereign, wishes and decides through the course of time," the former monarch said in a written statement issued by his press office.

    The ex-king was responding to a statement by Mr. Karamanlis earlier this week advising "those who still feel sympathetic towards the institution of the monarch to realize at long last that the issue concerning the form of government in Greece has been resolved conclusively". The monarchy in Greece was officially abolished in 1974 by a referendum following seven years of military dictatorship.

    The former king and Mr. Karamanlis began trading accusations after the latter published his archives in which he claimed Constantine had planned a coup in 1975.

    Meanwhile, the government yesterday continued to distance itself from the row.

    "The government has no interest in the clash which has arisen following publication of the archives of Constantine Karamanlis," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said when asked by reporters to comment.

    "The facts themselves may be useful, but the government is not occupying itself with them because it is fighting a battle for the future and leaves others to dwell on the past," Mr. Reppas added.

    [09] Name dispute should not sour Athens-Skopje relations, Frckovski says

    Skopje, 10/05/1997 (ANA - M. Vihou)

    Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frckovski of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) said yesterday the dispute with Greece over the use of the name "Macedonia" was not important enough to spoil the improved relations between the two neighboring nations, nor could it influence "the strategic importance of interests and bilateral co-operation".

    Speaking to the Greek press, the minister contended that the recent improvement in bilateral relations was not only due to the danger to both countries posed by the crisis in Albania but had its own dynamic, since Greece had found FYROM to be "a partner in the region".

    While he stressed that FYROM was participating "in a constructive way" in the UN-sponsored talks in New York, he said:

    "There are certain limits which concern substantial interests and the very identity of the Macedonian state which cannot be overlooked."

    The name dispute, he added, could remain "open, without a war, but without a compromise, such as the Cyprus issue or Greek-Turkish relations" although he hastened to add that his country "will not follow Greece's example but will try to resolve the problem in another way if possible and with mutual respect".

    In Mr. Frckovski's opinion, the interim bilateral agreement reached in New York in September 1995 is the result of concessions on the part of his country. The name "Republic of Macedonia" (which Greece objects to), he said is in fact a "composite name since it determines the current borders of the state and differentiates it from the broader geographical and historical meaning of the word".

    He objected to the proposed "Slavomacedonia" as being offensive to the dignity of his nation's peoples, since he said they include five cultures - ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine as well as Slav. Mr. Frckovski also said it had been a compromise on the part of his government to agree to Greece using its own choice of name for FYROM in bilateral relations.

    Asked by the ANA whether the name "Republic of Macedonia-Skopje" was being discussed, Mr. Frckovski replied that Greece had rejected such a proposal in 1992, while the FYROM had not taken a position on the issue.

    "This issue is very serious and we do not know what would happen if it had been accepted at that time," he said, adding nevertheless that according to his sources, "this formula has not been raised during the New York talks".

    [10] Simitis: Respect for int'l law a condition for support of Ankara in Europe

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday reiterated Greece's support for Turkey's place in Europe, if Ankara indicated by its actions respect for the rules of international law and for human rights.

    Addressing an event in central Athens' Old Parliament House to celebrate Europe Day in the presence of European Commission President Jacques Santer, Mr. Simitis said Greece was in favor of improved relations between the European Union and Turkey if the latter adhered to international law. Then, he added, Turkey would have Greece's support in Europe.

    Europe Day commemorates the day in 1950 when Robert Schumann made a proclamation paving the way for the foundation of the European Community.

    [11] US hails decisions by Nicosia, Ankara to halt overflights

    Washington, 10/05/1997 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    The US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns yesterday expressed the satisfaction of the US over unilateral decisions by Nicosia and Ankara to halt flights by Greek and Turkish warplanes over Cypriot airspace.

    "The United States welcome the decision of the government of Cyprus not to invite Greek aircraft to make overflights over Cyprus during the exercises 'Toxotis' and 'Vergina', as well as a report that neither have other overflights been planned for this period. We also welcome the report from the government of Turkey that it is not planning overflights over Cyprus for as long as Greek aircraft do not fly over the island. We believe that these separate actions contribute towards a better atmosphere for efforts under way in this period under the auspices of the United Nations, aimed at resolving the Cyprus problem," Mr. Burns said.

    [12] Greece, Israel to conduct joint exercise in Dodecanese

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    A scheduled joint Greek-Israeli military exercise will take place in the sea region of the Dodecanese from June 24-29 within the framework of a bilateral agreement, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced yesterday.

    An Israeli official will visit Greece within the next few days to participate in preparations for the exercise, Mr. Reppas added.

    [13] No special court for Livanos, V. Papandreou in relation to Floisvos case

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    Former tourism minister Dionysis Livanos and Development Minister Vasso Papandreou will not be brought before a special court, after Parliament yesterday rejected a relevant proposal by the main opposition New Democracy party concerning the issue of the Floisvos casino license.

    Specifically, 150 deputies voted against the indictment of Mr. Livanos as against 114 who voted in favor. Five deputies voted present, while 11 cast blank ballots. In the case of Ms Papandreou, 146 deputies voted against indictment against 121 in favor. Seven deputies voted present and six others cast blank votes. A total of 281 deputies participated in the voting procedure, of whom one cast a spoilt vote.

    According to the result of the voting, 23 deputies of parties who had opposed indictment for Ms Papandreou voted differently from their party's policy. At least five belong to the ruling PASOK party, since PASOK deputies participating in voting amounted to 151.

    Out of 10 PASOK deputies absent from voting, Mr. Katsanevas, Mr. Kouroublis, Mr. Kipouros and Mr. Kedikoglou were listed as being unjustifiably absent. Mr. Katsanevas stated later on that he made a mistake on the time voting was to take place and this w as the reason he did not vote. Also absent were five deputies from ND and two from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

    KKE announced that it voted in favor of an investigating committee being set up for Dionysis Livanos, to consider charges of violation of duty and lack of good faith, but not for passive bribery. However, it cast a negative vote for Ms Papandreou, since evidence was inadequate.

    [14] Greece, Georgia sign protocol on cultural exchange

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    A protocol signed between Greece and Georgia anticipates establishment of archaeological societies and institutes in Athens and Tbilisi. The protocol was signed by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and the president of the Georgian Academy of Sciences A. Tayhelidze, and is aimed at developing relations between the two countries in the cultural sector.

    The protocol begins with reference to the "close bond between the peoples of Georgia and Greece from ancient times until today, and developing historical and archaeological research as well as maintenance and restoration of cultural monuments."

    It also refers, among others, to prospects of co-operation by the year 2000.

    [15] Joint ministerial meeting examines military, security services' pensioning issue

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    A government meeting yesterday examined the armed forces and security services' pensioning issue as well as issues concerning the joint competence of the national defense, public order, merchant marine and interior ministries on their better coordination and effectiveness.

    The meeting was attended by Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Alekos Papadopoulos, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Public Order Minister George Romeos, Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis and Finance Undersecretary George Drys, as well as by senior officers of the armed forces and security services.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the issue of creating a special force for the sole purpose of guarding borders was also discussed. Mr. Romeos expressed the view that police will not go on strike since, as he said, decisions taken are positive.

    [16] Experts say they've found site of Colossus of Rhodes

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    The location of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was possibly at the entrance to Mandraki harbor where the statues of two fawns stand today, according to a research team under the supervision of a seismology professor.

    The team, under Professor Evangelos Lekkas, studied the effects of earthquakes and other natural disasters on Rhodes in the classical and mediaeval periods. Professor Lekkas however rejected theories that the fawns in some way served as the bases for the legs of the Colossus since there were no fawns at the northeast end of the fortress of the Old City in ancient times.

    According to the research team, a major earthquake in 227 BC was accompanied by "seismic breaches" which caused significant damage to monuments on the island and resulted in the collapse of the Colossus, no remains of which have ever been found.

    Professor Lekkas announced his team's findings at the 4th International Symposium on the preservation of Mediterranean monuments which is currently being held in Rhodes.

    He presented data indicating that the city of Rhodes on numerous occasions reached its peak only to fall into decline due to "the combined action of natural disasters".

    The Colossus of Rhodes was a large bronze statue of the sun god, Helios, in the island's harbor. It is believed to have been built in whole or in part by Chares of Lindus (Rhodes) between 292 and 280 BC.

    The bronze had been taken from the tools and machines left behind by Demetrius I after his unsuccessful siege of Rhodes.

    [17] Papaioannou says world economy dictates "change in labor conditions"

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said "social dialogue" will take place as scheduled on Wednesday, adding that the government is not considering a postponement.

    In another development, Labor Minister Miltiades Papaioannou indicated that developments in the world economy dictate a change in labor conditions and that the government aims to make relevant changes with social dialogue in co-operation with production forces in the interests of the country's workers.

    Mr. Papaioannou was speaking at a conference on "Labor in Europe at the End of the 20th Century", organized by the Macedonian Labor Institute (MAKINE) and the Thessaloniki Labor Center.

    Both during his address and in a statement to reporters afterwards, Mr. Papaioannou said the target of a socialist government is maintaining full employment. He added, however, that what is meant with this term must be determined since at present there are new forms of employment and many working people are seeking part-time employment.

    He confirmed that the government is not considering the possibility of working hours being decreased together with a decrease in remuneration or weakening collective agree-ments and changing the legal framework governing mass dismissals.

    Mr. Papaioannou said the issue of unemployment is the "central problem" for the country, adding that competitiveness is not linked solely to labor relations and the cost of labor but also to modernization and an improvement in the effectiveness of the state, the cost of money and the cost of knowledge.

    He said the main points in government strategy are active policies for increasing employment, a settlement of working time, help for special social groups to join the labor market, support for education and training, favoring certain forms of employment in agreement with working people, settlements for new forms of employment and strengthening collective negotiating.

    PASOK's Secretary Costas Skandalidis said the present labor model is being destructured and that it must be replaced with the prospering state in the new era on the basis of the international allocation of labor. He said social dialogue must take place in this direction.

    Mr. Skandalidis called on the left and progressive forces to stop handling the issue of employment and unemployment from a position of trenches but with a long-term and substantive prospect.

    The president of MAKINE and the Thessaloniki Labor Center Ilias Kontopoulos said in his address that the creation of 15 million new jobs by the year 2000 must be anticipated in the Maastricht Treaty, which is under revision.

    [18] EU economic and social committee reps meet in Athens

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    The annual meeting of the European Union's economic and social committee (ESC) with representatives from EU member-states was held in Athens yesterday, focusing on social dialogue processes throughout Europe.

    The president of the Greek ESC, Ioannis Koukiadis, said the ESC will emerge as a social dialogue body, coordinate the discussion between partners and will finally present their structured positions to the government. Mr. Koukiadis also said the first phase of social dialogue will probably be completed by the end of November.

    ESC Secretary General Grigoris Papanikos, who chaired the meeting with his European counterparts, summed up the basic conclusions drawn in the discussion, saying that social dialogue is emerging in all countries as a basic "tool" in facing social and economic problems. The labor landscape is changing and the trend throughout the EU is for more flexible labor relations. The discussion has already got under way on who and how will shoulder the burden of changes.

    [19] EU program to promote European exports to Japan

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry is to hold a meeting Thursday in order to present the European Union program "Gateway to Japan II", which aims to promote European exports to Japan.

    The program, funded by the EU, foresees the holding of seminars in order to inform Greek businesses wishing to become active in the Japanese market, as well as the organizing of commercial exhibitions.

    The four-year-long program includes commercial activities concerning environmental technology, building materials, maritime equipment, food and beverages and media technology, among others.

    [20] Three tons of marijuana confiscated

    Athens, 10/05/1997 (ANA)

    Police last night confiscated more than three tons of marijuana found in containers in the customs cargo storage area at the port of Piraeus.

    The marijuana was found after police authorities received a tip-off last month, claiming that a large shipment was due to arrive in Greece from Cambodia.

    A month ago, the finance ministry's drug squad noticed suspicious containers which had arrived on board a ship from Singapore.

    The containers were placed under surveillance, but the drug squad decided to investigate them after no-one attempted to collect the shipment.

    They were found to contain more than three tons of marijuana, making this the largest drug haul in Greece, police said.

    According to initial reports, police are questioning three people in connection with the case, two of whom are customs officials, who have so far denied all knowledge of the shipment.

    Authorities have already notified Interpol over the investigation.

    End of English language section.


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