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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 97-05-16

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] High-ranking Gov't meeting focuses on latest foreign policy developments
  • [02] Ankara welcomes decision on Cyprus overflights
  • [03] G. Papandreou: No negotiation of sovereign rights
  • [04] Gov't denies US moratorium on arms deliveries
  • [05] Opposition
  • [06] Pangalos reacts to latest tension in Albania over Berisha-backed election law
  • [07] Greek consul to Gjirokaster lauds ethnic Greek minority's presence in Albania
  • [08] Gov't on social dialogue
  • [09] Opposition
  • [10] ESHEA urges Gov't to back full transparency in EU Commission, CoE
  • [11] Former ND premier Rallis offers positive remarks on Gov't policy
  • [12] Tzoumakas warns tobacco traders to honor contracts with producers
  • [13] Europarliament's Fisheries Committee to visit Kos, Kalymnos
  • [14] Avramopoulos head local Gov't delegation at Amsterdam meeting
  • [15] Ian Holm as Lear in Thessaloniki
  • [16] Garbage strike continues
  • [17] Algerian ambassador says voters in his nation reject fanatical Islamist solution
  • [18] EOT head: Gov't will fully support airline created by tourism sector businesses
  • [19] Amnesty welcomes new Greek law on military service
  • [20] ND issues statement on EPP summit
  • [21] Ionian Bank 'treasure' surfaces
  • [22] Swedish academic honored
  • [23] Priest arrested for transporting illegal immigrants
  • [24] Greece Vice-President of UNESCO committee
  • [25] Special stamp series for IAAF championships in Athens

  • [01] High-ranking Gov't meeting focuses on latest foreign policy developments

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday chaired a meeting attended by the leadership of the foreign and defense ministries that focused on the latest developments on the Cyprus question as well as issues concerning the "committee of experts" and Greek-Turkish relations.

    On the question of Cyprus, reports said the government is awaiting an initiative by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who intends to invite Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash over the summer for a start to direct talks.

    On Monday, the UN secretary general's envoy, Sir Kieran Prendergast, will visit Athens for talks with Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis. Sir Kieran will also visit Turkey.

    The Greek side of the "committee of experts" has already started work to prepare the document it will send to the European Union's Dutch presidency, with Turkey doing likewise. Yesterday's meeting did not indicate any change in the government's position s concerning a joint meeting between the two committees. The government has stressed that the process will be carried out using the Dutch presidency as a conduit.

    An in-depth discussion was held on Greek-Turkish relations and, according to sources, extensive reference was made to NATO's involvement in the creation of confidence-building measures between Greece and Turkey. Satisfaction was expressed over figures gathered from NATO in connection with national airspace violations by Turkish aircraft.

    NATO headquarters in Naples has been receiving a Reconnaissance Aircraft Projector (RAP) image of the Aegean for about three months with the consent of both Greece and Turkey. Reports reveal that collected information absolutely vindicates Greece, which has long pointed to Turkish violations. It is noteworthy that about 80 per cent of violations take place even further than six miles inside Greek airspace.

    According to reliable sources, the government intends to call on NATO to exert pressure on Turkey to stop airspace violations.

    [02] Ankara welcomes decision on Cyprus overflights

    Istanbul, 16/05/1997 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Ankara yesterday welcomed a decision to not conduct overflights of Cyprus during the joint Greek-Cypriot military exercise "Toxotis-Vergina", which was held in early May.

    Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Omer Akbel said US officials informed Ankara of the decision and added that the Turkish side mentioned that it would act similarly in future exercises.

    Mr. Akbel added that the US had recommended the measure to both sides as a confidence-building measure.

    "We greet with satisfaction the acceptance by the Greek side of the US proposal," he said, adding: "We believe that such actions contribute to the reduction of tension in the Aegean and in the eastern Mediterranean."

    [03] G. Papandreou: No negotiation of sovereign rights

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    In a related development, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday reiterated Athens' firm position not to negotiate any of its sovereign rights, saying the government never fails to clearly state Greek positions during international contacts.

    He made the statement in response to a tabled Parliament question by main opposition New Democracy deputy Ioannis Varvitsiotis regarding recent meetings by the foreign ministry's political leadership with their Turkish counterparts, as well as the "committee of experts" Athens and Ankara recently agreed to form.

    Noting what he called a "provocative Turkish stance," Mr. Varvitsiotis said "the government was sliding into a Greek-Turkish dialogue without conditions and terms."

    "The dialogue has begun with the meetings between the foreign ministry's leadership and their Turkish counterparts and with the establishment of the committee of experts..." he said.

    On his part, Mr. Papandreou also said Athens had reacted immediately to the "unacceptable statements" of the Turkish Foreign Under-secretary Inal Batu, regarding the sovereignty of the island of Gavdos (south of Crete) with demarches and briefings to for eign governments.

    He agreed with Mr. Varvitsiotis that "these provocative statements had taken place with the initiative for the committee of experts pending."

    He clarified, however, that the committee of experts "examines procedural issues."

    Mr. Papandreou said "there is no negotiation of our national sovereign rights. At the meetings with our counterparts," he added, "we reiterate the clear Greek positions." "This dialogue cannot be confused with negotiations of our sovereign rights," he s aid, adding:

    "There is a different dimension of Greek-Turkish problems which are now Euro-Turkish problems in the European Union."

    [04] Gov't denies US moratorium on arms deliveries

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, meanwhile, said reports claiming a delay in the delivery of weapons systems to Greece from the United States are absolutely false.

    "These reports have nothing to do with reality," he said.

    Referring to weapons systems scheduled to be ordered, Mr. Reppas said a study of these systems is being completed but no contact has been made with anyone so far, either a government or agent. He added that very often certain reports on the issue reflect the aims of interested third parties.

    [05] Opposition

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    On its part, the main opposition New Democracy party criticized the government of failing to define a unified foreign policy in light of the meeting chaired by Mr. Simitis. "Inability to define a unified foreign policy is being confirmed.

    Their prolonged meeting under the chairmanship of the prime minister today did not bridge differences and was shrouded in a veil of mystery, since it was considered expedient in the evening not to ultimately issue any relevant announcement, despite the fact that its issuing had been officially announced since early in the afternoon," ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos said.

    [06] Pangalos reacts to latest tension in Albania over Berisha-backed election law

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos has taken steps to aid in the diffusing of tension created in Albania due to the voting of a controversial electoral law backed by embattled Albanian President Sali Berisha.

    Opposition parties in Albania and several western countries have expressed objections to the new electoral law.

    Mr. Pangalos last night spoke in turn with Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) special envoy Franz Vranitzky, Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana and Mr. Berisha.

    He called on all to undertake efforts in order for elections in the neighboring country to be held correctly at the end of June.

    According to reports, Mr. Pangalos asked the Albanian president not to lead his country into the elections under the law, which was passed on Tuesday, and to accept a compromise that would satisfy all sides.

    Mr. Pangalos also contacted Greece's ambassador to Washington, Loukas Tsilas, and asked him to meet with Albanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino, currently on a visit to the United States, and to ask the Albanian premier to undertake all possible efforts for elections to be held in order to avert a further political deterioration in Albania.

    [07] Greek consul to Gjirokaster lauds ethnic Greek minority's presence in Albania

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Greece's Consul General to Gjirokaster, Nikos Kanellos, said yesterday that the presence of the ethnic Greek minority constitutes an advantage to Greece in Albanian developments.

    Mr. Kanellos made the statement during an event in Thessaloniki organized by the Greek Union of International Law on the subject of "The Balkans in the Modern Era and New Diplomatic Prospects".

    He said that from the start, Greece's diplomatic movements during the Albanian crisis, both in Tirana and in the consulate in Gjirokaster "were directed at and touched the broader strata, Greek and Albanian citizens, which allows us, with the correct handling, to contribute to Greece's imposition as a permanent and stable base..."

    [08] Gov't on social dialogue

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday reiterated that the social dialogue will focus on the issues of employment, competitiveness and development.

    He said the issue of social security would be raised in the second phase of talks.

    Mr. Reppas said the social dialogue's agenda will include all the issues raised by the government as well as those which already have and will be raised by the workers.

    [09] Opposition

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    The main opposition new Democracy party's spokesman, Aris Spiliotopoulos, commented yesterday on statements by the government spokesman regarding workers' "established rights".

    "As arises from the evasions of the government spokesman, the government considers there are established rights of certain categories which work against common interests and seek dialogue from a zero sum basis," he said.

    "We call on the government to abandon riddles and to state which are the categories of citizens who have ensured such established rights, what these are and what are its positions, thoughts and intentions."

    Commenting on the government's social dialogue, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said the best thing for working people to do is not to legitimize the dialogue, and called on trade unions to change their stance.

    "The non-legitimization of the dialogue provides the hope of... pressure in order for everything not to be overturned. Participation in the particular dialogue means a green light for chopping (what has been gained)," she said.

    [10] ESHEA urges Gov't to back full transparency in EU Commission, CoE

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    In an announcement yesterday, the Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) called on the government to align itself at the EU Intergovernmental Conference with other governments demanding transparency in decisions taken by the European Union's Commission and Council of Ministers as well as the right of citizens and reporters to be fully informed.

    ESHEA made its call in a letter addressed to the prime minister and forwarded to the foreign, interior, justice, public order and press and mass media ministers, Eurodeputies and to deputies who are members of ESHEA.

    [11] Former ND premier Rallis offers positive remarks on Gov't policy

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    The government yesterday welcomed comments from a former ND prime minister that Prime Minister Costas Simitis' policies would make the country prosperous.

    "It is good that support is offered from rivals to the prime minister in his effort to further improve the country's position," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday when asked to comment on a statement by former New Democracy prime minister George Rallis.

    Mr. Rallis surprised those attending the official launch of the archives of former president Constantine Karamanlis on Wednesday night by saying that if "(late PASOK founder and former prime minister) Andreas Papandreou... had followed the policy that Cost as Simitis is following today, then Greece would be a prospering country".

    Mr. Reppas added that Greece under the PASOK governments led by Andreas Papandreou made significant progress, but, he added, "there is always room for improvement".

    However, the comments caused dissatisfaction and discontent in the main opposition New Democracy party.

    "The view set out by Mr. Rallis has value for himself," said ND deputy Yiannis Kefaloyiannis and pointed out that the former prime minister is outside active politics.

    Other ND cadres said Mr. Rallis is right in that the policy applied by the Simitis government is better than that of Andreas Papandreou, but added that it is worse than that of ND.

    In reply to reactions to his statement, Mr. Rallis said that "I didn't support Mr. Simitis".

    "I said simply that the policy which Mr. Simitis is trying to follow is one which was announced long ago by ND and its presidents, Mitsotakis, Evert, the current president; that is, the restriction of public spending and of state enterprises, as well as the development of the economy through the private sector," he said.

    [12] Tzoumakas warns tobacco traders to honor contracts with producers

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas yesterday appealed to wholesale tobacco traders and tobacco manufacturers to honor contracts they signed with producers last year and to receive tobacco shipments within the new deadline obtained from the European Union.

    Speaking to reporters during his visit to the 14th DETROP exhibition in Thessaloniki, Mr. Tzoumakas reminded that contracts constitute an institutional element for the EU, adding that whoever violates them will face sanctions.

    "Our position is clear. If they do not receive the tobacco by the last day of the deadline, which after the new extension comes to an end seven days from today, then there will be sanctions and even a black list for the next year," Mr. Tzoumakas warned, adding that "some will not be able to buy even a kilo."

    In another development, an announcement by the General Confederation of Agricultural Unions of Greece called for government intervention to enable the sale of large quantities of tobacco, which have remained unsold since the deadline for trade deals ended yesterday.

    "Tobacco producers have found themselves in a difficult position and the confederation will react to every effort to place responsibilities on the producers because they are the only who are not responsible," the announcement said.

    [13] Europarliament's Fisheries Committee to visit Kos, Kalymnos

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    An eight-member delegation of the Europarliament's Fisheries Committee, adopting a proposal by Greek Eurodeputy Ioannis Roubatis, is to visit the Aegean islands of Kos and Kalymnos over the weekend in order to be briefed on the problems of coastal fishing , fish farming and of traditional sponge gathering.

    The delegation is to meet with officials in the agriculture and merchant marine ministries, local self-administration officials in the Dodecanese and the representatives of the region's fishermen's trade unions.

    [14] Avramopoulos head local Gov't delegation at Amsterdam meeting

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor and president of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), Dimitris Avramopoulos, will leave for Amsterdam today at the head of a delegation of local administration officials to attend one of the more crucial meetings focusing on policy of European local administration organizations after the Maastricht Treaty.

    Mr. Avramopoulos will be one of three speakers on the issue of "Regions and Cities, a Key Role in Employment."

    [15] Ian Holm as Lear in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Internationally-renowned British actor Ian Holm appears as King Lear in the British Royal National Theater production in Thessaloniki, in the framework of the city's 1997 Cultural Capital of Europe events.

    The performances, to be held on May 28, 29, 30 and 31, have been organized in co-operation with the British Council and the Cultural Capital Organization.

    [16] Garbage strike continues

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    The mounds of garbage already decorating street corners in Athens will probably grow higher in the coming days, as municipal workers last night decided to extend their strike indefinitely, while also keeping the Ano Liosia landfill closed.

    The decision came after an amendment under which part-time municipal workers would have received full-time contracts was withdrawn in Parliament, following objections by ruling PASOK party deputies.

    Workers at the landfill are scheduled to meet today in order to decide upon the further extension of strike action.

    "There is no way we will open the landfill. We cannot be employees held as political hostages," the president of the workers' union said.

    [17] Algerian ambassador says voters in his nation reject fanatical Islamist solution

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Elections scheduled to be held in Algeria on June 5 are expected to in large part decide the future of the North African nation after five turbulent years of widespread violence and political instability.

    "The difficult struggle against terrorism, which has been waged since 1992 has drastically reduced the extent of this phenomenon, which is concentrated in roughly 10-15 per cent of Algerian territory, mainly on the outskirts of the capital," Algeria's ambassador to Athens, Amar Abba, said yesterday.

    He also said the Algerian people have realized, despite their problems, that the solution is not to be found in the violence of "fanatic islamists."

    During the last two years, he said, there has been progress in the economic sector, which is "impressive for a period of such political instability."

    According to political analysts, Algiers' most important legislative tools include a new law under which parties are banned from including in their title or charter any mention of Islam, gender, local dialect or any region of Algeria.

    The law allows the two main Islamic parties, Hamas and Dahda, to participate in the elections if they erase all mentions of Islam.

    In the 1995 presidential elections, the Hamas candidate had gained one third the number of votes of Liamin Zerouel, who was elected president.

    Roughly 200 international observers from the Arab League, the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations will be present for the elections.

    According to Mr. Abba, Greece has also decided to send observers, but it is not yet known how many will travel to the country.

    [18] EOT head: Gov't will fully support airline created by tourism sector businesses

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT) Secretary General Nikos Skoulas said yesterday that the government will fully support Greek tour operators if it proceeds with the appropriate creation of a combined shareholding airline company, in order to reduce the dependence of Greek tourism on foreign tour operators.

    Currently, 82 per cent of tourists arrive in Greece by plane, most of them using charter flights.

    Mr. Skoulas made the statement during a meeting between the heads of all hoteliers' associations in the country, called by the Panhellenic Hoteliers Association.

    During the meeting, the majority vote decision was confirmed to not submit to pressures from foreign tour operators calling for price reductions in Greek hotels by up to 10 per cent for 1998.

    Hoteliers decided to increase their prices by a maximum of 5 per cent in relation to this year.

    Mr. Skoulas also announced that in a few weeks, EOT will have prepared the declaration for a new international tender for the conducting of international marketing research concerning all countries considered to be markets for tourists to Greece.

    EOT aims for its next advertising campaign to target particular demands in each country.

    Mr. Skoulas also said a committee is being formed with the participation of representatives of the private sector, to promote the inclusion of Greek hotels in the "star rating" system. He added that groups of tour agents from the former Soviet Union and from central European countries are to be invited to Greece in order to become acquainted with the country as a tourist destination.

    [19] Amnesty welcomes new Greek law on military service

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    The Greek chapter of Amnesty International yesterday described as "a milestone in the history of human rights in Greece" the government's decision to allow conscientious objectors to do an alternative form of compulsory military service.

    At the same time however, Amnesty expressed serious reservations about the duration of alternative service which conscientious objectors would have to complete.

    The government on Sunday announced the final arrangements contained in new legislation aimed at resolving the problem of draft-dodgers abroad and conscientious objectors.

    A bill has already been tabled in Parliament and approved by the 300-member House's Scientific Committee. The bill will be debated by the end of May.

    Under the provisions of the bill, draft-dodgers 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 per month basis. The exact number of months to be served and the amount payable will depend on the age of the person concerned and family obligations.

    Conscientious objectors 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.

    The government clarified however that both alternative forms would entail a term of service double the normal duration.

    While welcoming the new legislation, Amnesty International expressed concern that the excessive length of alternative service might result in the continuing imprisonment of conscientious objectors, thereby undermining what in other respects it sees as a positive measure.

    Amnesty described the double length of alternative service as the "Achilles heel" of the measure. The human rights organization said also that although "a milestone in the history of human rights in Greece", the measure should be accompanied by the immediate and unconditional release of the hundreds of conscientious objectors currently serving prison sentences for refusing to enlist.

    Amnesty International said it did not accept the concept of alternative service "without social orientation", nor of a duration which constitutes punishment or deters its adoption.

    Alternative service, Amnesty said, should be equal in nature to the regular military service applying at any one time.

    [20] ND issues statement on EPP summit

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Referring to the European Peoples Party's (EPP) summit on May 21 and the party's absence from it, the main opposition New Democracy party explained yesterday that the summit concerns the leaderships of the EPP's member-states participating in European governments.

    An announcement by ND said that according to the charter of the EPP, a session of all party leaders is held, either in government or not, in which ND participates. It added that from 1981 until the present, ND remains one of the EPP's most active member-parties and participates at all levels and in all work groups and committees, through which the EPP has repeatedly stated its case in favor of the country's major national issues.

    [21] Ionian Bank 'treasure' surfaces

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    A large cache of ancient coins have apparently surfaced in the vault of Ionian Bank headquarters in Athens.

    The find was publicized by the Ionian Bank employees' trade union newsletter, which said a Greek national had deposited about 40 years ago a large box, roughly the size of a desk, full of ancient coins and had not returned since.

    According to the publication, "during the current decade, the bank, while clearing pending issues in the central safety deposit boxes, through completely legal channels, appropriated the contents of safes which included the box in question, the contents of which are estimated to be worth more than 10 billion drachmas."

    The bank refused to give any details of the coin collection, citing customer confidentiality.

    "It is banks' standard obligation and tactics to not publicize the contents of their clients' accounts, whether this refers to money or to other articles," it said.

    "According to Greek legislation, various articles periodically become the property or fall into the possession of the banks," it added.

    The bank's administration said that in the case that these articles were of an archaeological or cultural interest, they are appropriated by the Greek state, while they can continue to be held by the bank.

    The bank said it intends to exhibit "articles of this particular category or others which are judged to have cultural value" in a museum, which will be created in Plaka or in the numismatic museum of Corfu.

    [22] Swedish academic honored

    Stockholm, 16/05/1997 (ANA - N. Servetas)

    Swedish professor Sture Linner was decorated with the Award of Honor at the Greek embassy here yesterday.

    The award was made on behalf of the president of the republic by Greece's ambassador to Sweden, Emmanuel Kalpadakis.

    Speaking after the decoration, Prof. Linner referred to Hellenic civilization, saying "the magnitude and grandeur of a country cannot be measured by its size or GDP, but with the civilization it produces and the readiness with which it defends its civilization. Greece and the Greeks proved this during World War II."

    Speaking to the Athens News Agency, he said in Sweden there is increased interest in everything that is Greek, provided that it is presented with seriousness and dignity.

    [23] Priest arrested for transporting illegal immigrants

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    A priest has been arrested in Thessaloniki for transporting illegal immigrants from Kastoria, near the border with Albania, for the sum of 20,000 drachmas each.

    Father Serapheim Asimakopoulos, 59, parish priest in the village of Avghi, Kastoria, was arrested with four Albanians, all illegal immigrants, in his car.

    [24] Greece Vice-President of UNESCO committee

    Cairo, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Greece was yesterday elected to the vice-presidency of the UNESCO inter-governmental committee responsible for the international campaign to establish a Museum of Nubian Civilization in Aswan and a National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo.

    The committee, which convened yesterday in Aswan, was established by the UNESCO General Assembly to fulfill a consultative role in the planning, execution and operation of the two museums. Eleni Methodiou, consultant on cultural issues to the UNESCO permanent representation, and Niki Tselenti, an archaeologist at the culture ministry, will sit on the committee.

    [25] Special stamp series for IAAF championships in Athens

    Athens, 16/05/1997 (ANA)

    Designs for a special series of stamps commemorating the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Championships in Athens was presented yesterday during a meeting of the organizing committee. The IAAF championships are to be held in Athens between Aug. 1-10.

    The stamps will all bear the logo of the championships as a background, and will present various scenes from ancient and modern track and field events. The design of the medals to be awarded to athletes and commemorative medals to be sold to the public has been assigned to artist Panayiotis Gravvalos.

    End of English language section.

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