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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 97-05-12

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

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <>


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  • [01] PASOK ready to regroup, reorganize and look ahead after weekend conference
  • [02] Turkey must match words to deeds, Simitis says
  • [03] Simitis in Luxembourg today
  • [04] Greek troops arrive in Skopje for nine-nation military exercise
  • [05] Santer satisfied with Greek progress in infrastructure works
  • [06] Commission to help Mount Athos
  • [07] New legislation aims to solve problems of conscientious objectors and draft evasion
  • [08] Friday's marijuana haul largest ever in Greece
  • [09] One killed, two arrested in dawn shoot-out between drug smugglers, police
  • [10] Woman's body found near Russian hitman's house
  • [11] Greece insists on right to extend territorial waters, defense minister says
  • [12] Gligorov hopes name issue will not sour Athens-Skopje relations
  • [13] Kranidiotis in Moscow today for talks
  • [14] Oymen may visit Athens later this month

  • [01] PASOK ready to regroup, reorganize and look ahead after weekend conference

    Athens, 12/05/1997 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis' addresses on Saturday during ruling PASOK's Policy Organizing Sector Panhellenic Conference focused on unifying the party and influenced procedures positively, the conference participants said after the closing session yesterday.

    During his speech at the conference on Saturday, Mr. Simitis stressed the need for the ruling PASOK party to "obtain new characteristics, as it has already turned over a new leaf".

    He said that the party's reorganization "is not simply an organizing effort," stressing that although PASOK should not forget the past, it should also look dynamically to the future "with new power and new ideas".

    For this reason, he said, the party's reorganization is tantamount to "refounding and restructuring".

    He said that in order for this to be achieved, "all powers must be activated and reunited with the realization that the (June 1996) congress (in which Mr. Simitis was elected party president) is now history, and the personal differences which arose must be overcome."

    The Policy Organizing Sector secretary, Mihalis Neonakis, described the conference as "one of the most substantial and constructive procedures in the history of PASOK."

    He stressed that all those who had predicted a climate of disagreement and conflict were proven wrong, as "in PASOK, politics, history, struggles, solidarity and comradeship unite."

    Mr. Neonakis noted there was full agreement on the party's policies, adding that "times change and one should not judge today based on yesterday, or the present situation based on the situation before the (June 1996) party congress."

    He called on PASOK's members to fight for their rights, adding that he supported "the need for new collectivism" and stressed that wherever there is strong organization, views are respected.

    Mr. Neonakis said PASOK must create a "new political culture, stressing that "all must live with the principle of majority and minority, ratifying differences."

    [02] Turkey must match words to deeds, Simitis says

    Athens, 12/05/1997 (ANA)

    Speaking on Greek-Turkish relations during his speech on Saturday, Mr. Simitis reiterated that Greece is not putting its sovereign rights up for negotiation and it is not questioning the status quo in the Aegean.

    "The government's policy aims to reinforce our positions," he said.

    "Greece differs from Turkey because it has a clear policy and positions based on international law and international treaties, while Turkey is an element of destabilization in the ... area."

    He reiterated that if Turkey proves it respects international law and withdraws its expansionist intentions, then Greece will aid its course towards Europe.

    Turning to the forming of the committee of experts to discuss procedural issues in Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Simitis said Greece aims to promote an improvement in relations with Turkey, stressing however that the committee will not constitute the beginning of political dialogue, nor will it have any mediatory qualities.

    "This dialogue has two possibilities," he reiterated. "Either it will be a turning point in Ankara's policies, in which case it will pave the way for a peaceful course of both countries within the framework of the European Union, or Ankara's true intent ions will be revealed."

    "It is the Turks and not us who have the problem of proving that words match deeds," he said.

    [03] Simitis in Luxembourg today

    Athens, 12/05/1997 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis is to leave on a visit for Luxembourg today, accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    Mr. Papandreou said the working visit would deal with issues such as the intergovernmental conference, Greece's important issues within the framework of the European Union's common foreign policy for defense and security, as well as other matters concerning the EU.

    Mr. Papandreou also addressed a meeting in Thessaloniki of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) yesterday, announcing that during the next two weeks, a proposal will be submitted for the drawing up of a bill to regulate the SAE's operation.

    [04] Greek troops arrive in Skopje for nine-nation military exercise

    Skopje, 12/05/1997 (ANA - M. Vihou)

    A platoon of Greek army commandos arrived in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) yesterday to take part in a nine-nation military exercise, the first time the Greek army has been in the region since the Second World War.

    Greek participation in the exercise "Rescuer '97" comes at a time of rapidly improving bilateral relations with the former Yugoslav republic.

    The exercise, part of NATO's "Partnership for Peace" efforts, is aimed at confronting a natural disaster, in this case a hypothetical earthquake and subsequent leak of toxic liquids into the Axios River and of toxic gas into the atmosphere.

    The Greek troops' role will be to transport the "wounded" on amphibious craft along the river to nearby hospitals. The platoon is comprised of 35 officers and soldiers, headed by Colonel Pantelis Karayiannidis and was met by the head of Greece's Liaison

    Office in Skopje, Alexandros Mallias as well as FYROM defense and military officials.

    Another three NATO member states, the US, Italy and Turkey, will be participating in the exercise, along with troops from FYROM, Bulgaria, Albania, Slovenia and Romania.

    FYROM President Kiro Gligorov is expected to attend the start of the exercise today at the Krivolak military base near the town of Negotino.

    [05] Santer satisfied with Greek progress in infrastructure works

    Athens, 12/05/1997 (ANA)

    European Commission President Jacques Santer concluded a three-day official visit to Greece yesterday, declaring his satisfaction with progress in infrastructure works under way in Greece, as well as the rate of absorption of European Union funds.

    "There haven't been any development projects of this magnitude since the time of Pericles," Mr. Santer told a press conference before his departure from Thessaloniki.

    Mr. Santer explained that funding prospects for 1999 would be announced by the Commission after the Amsterdam summit, but said that they would be included in a package along with the Commission's report on candidate countries for accession to the EU, as well as the entirety of the EU's structural policies regarding expansion.

    The drawing up of this package, he added, would also entail a consideration of the cost of expansion.

    Replying to a question with regard to a proposal by Association of Northern Greece Industrialists (SBBE) president Nikos Efthimiadis for a "Santer plan" to support Balkan nations, Mr. Santer said a comprehensive framework existed, which however concentrated on each state separately.

    The EU had special agreements with Bulgaria and Romania, he explained, which covered the entire spectrum of relations. The EU was also contributing 450 million ECU to Albania, a higher amount of aid than to any other country.

    Mr. Santer also visited the offices of the Development of Vocational Training Center (CEDEFOP), which has moved from Berlin to Thessaloniki, becoming the only EU organization based in Greece.

    [06] Commission to help Mount Athos

    Athens, 12/05/1997 (ANA)

    Mr. Santer announced a Commission decision to provide aid to the community of Mount Athos on Saturday, in recognition of "its great importance to Europe", during his visit to the autonomous monastic community.

    He praised the spiritual tradition of Mount Athos, which he said could be a model for the Europe of the future, and expressed his belief that the provision of aid will be to the benefit of Europe as a whole.

    Mr. Santer added that the monastic community's cultural heritage and history have contributed to the creation of "a unique type of society which is based on spiritual values."

    [07] New legislation aims to solve problems of conscientious objectors and draft evasion

    Athens, 12/05/1997 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday announced the final arrangements contained in new legislation aimed at resolving the problem of draft-dodgers abroad and conscientious objectors.

    Speaking at the sessions of a Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) presidium meeting in Thessaloniki, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said a relevant bill had already been tabled in Parliament and approved by the 300-member House's Scientific Committee.

    Under the provisions of the bill, draft-evaders living abroad will be able to return to Greece if they agree to complete a few months military service and pay off their remaining term on a monthly basis.

    Up to now, Greek men avoiding the draft by going abroad were allowed to return to the country only under special circumstances and only for a short period.

    The exact number of months to be served and the amount to be paid will depend on the age of the person concerned and family obligations.

    By way of example, draft dodgers who were born between 1957 and 1964 will serve six months and pay off the remainder of what they would normally have served at 100,000 drachmas per month.

    Conscientious objectors meanwhile will be able to choose one of two forms of alternative service - either "unarmed" service in one of the branches of the military, or "social service" in a public organization.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos clarified however that both alternatives would entail a term of service double the normal tour of duty.

    This was unavoidable, he said, because countries such as Spain which introduced the option of alternative service of almost the same duration as regular service suddenly faced a conscription problem resulting from the appearance of thousands of "conscientious objectors".

    The arrangements are contained in a bill on military conscription which will be discussed in Parliament by the end of May.

    [08] Friday's marijuana haul largest ever in Greece

    Athens, 12/05/1997 (ANA)

    Police said on Saturday that the four tons of marijuana confiscated from a container in a Piraeus port storage area in Piraeus Friday night was the largest drug haul ever in Greece.

    Initial reports on Friday put the haul at three tons.

    The drugs, packed in 286 cardboard boxes, were found after police authorities received a tip-off claiming a large shipment of marijuana was due to arrive in the country from Cambodia.

    The container, which according to its documents was carrying a cargo of plates and flower vases, was unloaded from the "Mare" on March 19 and was immediately placed under surveillance.

    According to the export documents, the Phnom Penh-based "Delmex" company sent the container to the "Alvita" company, owned by Petros Christopoulou and based in Aspropyrgos in Attica.

    Following a preliminary investigation, police suspect the shipment was organized by Cypriot Eleftherios Pafitis, 40, who is believed to be a permanent resident of Belgium.

    When questioned by police, Mr. Christopoulou claimed Mr. Pafitis used his packaging company, but that he himself was unaware of the marijuana shipment.

    [09] One killed, two arrested in dawn shoot-out between drug smugglers, police

    Athens, 12/05/1997 (ANA)

    One Albanian was killed and two arrested during a shoot-out at dawn on Saturday between police and drug smugglers at Kalami, Plataria in Thesprotia, northern Greece.

    The gunfight erupted after three Albanians had reached the Greek coast by speedboat and were hiding 20 sacks - a reported 500 kilos - of marijuana which the police believe were to be picked up later by accomplices. However, special police forces and drug squad officers from Athens were lying in wait. Two coast-guard vessels also took part in the operation.

    The other two Albanians are being held at Igoumenitsa coast-guard headquarters.

    The Greek authorities are now trying to determine whether the speedboat used by the Albanians is the same as that used in recent attacks against coast-guard boats in the Ionian Sea. A later dispatch from Ioannina said the boat had been stolen from Corfu.

    Two Kalashnikovs were found in the speedboat which had been used by the Albanians to fire at the police.

    [10] Woman's body found near Russian hitman's house

    Athens, 12/05/1997 (ANA)

    The decomposing and dismembered body of a young woman was found on Saturday in a shallow grave three kilometers outside the southern Athens suburb of Saronida, police said.

    The body was found near the house of a suspected Russian hitman, Alexander Solonik, who was found murdered in the northern Athens suburb of Varibobi in early February.

    The makeshift grave contained a suitcase with the woman's torso and a travel bag with her head and limbs. The woman's internal organs had been wrapped in a towel.

    A coroner set the woman's age at roughly 20.

    Police suspect the dead woman may be Svetlana Kokivi, 19, a former Miss Russia who was reported missing three months before the discovery of Solonik's body. Kokivi is believed to have been having an affair with Solonik.

    [11] Greece insists on right to extend territorial waters, defense minister says

    Athens, 12/05/1997 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said yesterday that Greece had an inalienable right to extend its territorial waters from six to twelve miles and would do so when it saw fit.

    However, he added, along with any such extension, Greece would at the same time safeguard the free navigation and movement of vessels in the Aegean.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was speaking in Thessaloniki when asked by reporters to comment on a front-page article in the Sunday newspaper "To Vima" claiming that Greece was edging towards agreement with Turkey on flights of military aircraft over the Aegean.

    Noting that he had not read the article, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos underlined that Athens cannot under any circumstances enter into negotiations with Ankara over Greece's sovereign rights.

    [12] Gligorov hopes name issue will not sour Athens-Skopje relations

    Skopje, 12/05/1997 (ANA- M. Vihou)

    The president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Kiro Gligorov is "very optimistic and convinced that there will be better relations between Greece and FYROM".

    Mr. Gligorov was speaking at a press conference on Saturday for Greek reporters invited to visit the neighboring country by the FYROM ministry of information.

    Greece and FYROM have the same policy and aspirations on strategic goals, he said.

    "I would not want the relations between 'Macedonia' and Greece to not develop and remain static only on the basis of the name issue," Mr. Gligorov said, referring to "the only" problem in Greece and FYROM's bilateral relations.

    FYROM is in favor of a compromise on the gamut of bilateral problems and it was in this spirit that the FYROM parliament passed two amendments to the constitution earlier this year, one saying that the country has no territorial designs on neighbors and the other which stresses the non-involvement in internal matters of neighboring countries, he said.

    Mr. Gligorov said the New York interim accord of 1995 was an expression of this spirit of compromise and stressed that his country's admission to the United Nations came with the proviso that "the two countries must discuss their differences on the issue of the name".

    He said it would be a "mistake" if the United Nations imposed a new name on his country, adding that the country's name "is derived from the very land on which its citizens live."

    The preservation of its name, he said, is "a matter concerning the dignity of its people and the consequence of a long historical experience."

    [13] Kranidiotis in Moscow today for talks

    Athens, 12/05/1997 (ANA)

    Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis left for Moscow yesterday, where he is scheduled to meet with Russian Foreign Under-secretary responsible for European and Cyprus affairs Alexander Avdiev and with other Russian foreign ministry officials.

    Discussions will include issues of Balkan interest, the Cyprus problem and Greek-Russian relations.

    Mr. Kranidiotis is then to travel to London, where he will meet with British Under-secretary for European Affairs Sir David Hannay and other British foreign ministry officials and discuss the course of the Cyprus problem and issues of bilateral interest.

    [14] Oymen may visit Athens later this month

    Athens, 12/05/1997 (ANA)

    Turkish Foreign Under-secretary Onur Oymen, Ankara's main representative in recent talks with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou on the formation of committees of experts to examine procedural issues related to Greek-Turkish differences, will vis it Athens on May 26, it was reported here Saturday.

    Sources said Mr. Oymen had accepted an invitation from the Center for Political Research (KPE) to take part in a meeting on the issue of Greek-Turkish relations and the European perspective of the two countries.

    End of English language section.

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