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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 97-12-01

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

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

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1354), December 1, 1997

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address:


  • [01] Washington's new ambassador Burns arrives to take up post
  • [02] ... Interview
  • [03] Simitis to present Greek WEU presidency's program
  • [04] Simitis talks with French leadership begin today
  • [05] No change in Aegean status with new NATO command structure
  • [06] ... Turkish reaction
  • [07] Cyprus hails announcement of specific date for EU accession talks
  • [08] Blair on Greek-Turkish relations
  • [09] Permanent Vergina exhibition inaugurated
  • [10] Stephanopoulos inaugurates Patra hospital's library, kidney center
  • [11] Karamanlis concludes tour of Thrace
  • [12] Upgraded Vatican participation in Patriarchate celebration
  • [13] Papariga visits communities protesting TVX goldmine
  • [14] PASOK's Tsoukatos says party's restructuring proceeding
  • [15] Thessaloniki Film Festival ends today
  • [16] Group claims responsibility for bombing of state-owned cars
  • [17] Illegal immigrants detained after landing on Crete, Samos
  • [18] Turkey figures as illegals' main springboard toward Greece

  • [01] Washington's new ambassador Burns arrives to take up post

    Athens, 01/12/1997 (ANA)

    Nicholas Burns, the new US ambassador to Greece, arrived in Athens yesterday to take up his post, the embassy announced in a press release.

    Upon his arrival at Athens' Hellenikon Airport, Mr. Burns declined to answer a reporter's question on reactions by the US and European Union to tension between Greece and Turkey, saying he had yet to meet with Greek government leaders.

    "I don't think it is appropriate for me to respond in detail to questions like that, but suffice it to say that the United States has a very deep interest in making sure that our NATO allies in this region have a basis to resolve their problems together, and that's what the United States has tried to do for a very long time and will continue to do," he said.

    Mr. Burns, who was officially appointed to the ambassador's post in Washington on Nov. 10, was until then the US State Department's spokesman.

    Starting his diplomatic career as a vice-consul in the Middle East in 1983, he later served for six years at the White House as special presidential adviser on Soviet and then Russian affairs at the National Security Council.

    Mr. Burns then became an adviser to former president George Bush on Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, accompanying him on an official visit to Greece in 1991.

    Upon his arrival at the airport, Mr. Burns said:

    "Over the last couple of weeks I have had the great good fortune to meet with (US) President Clinton, Vice-President Gore and our Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and I can tell you that all of them are united in believing that our relationship with Greece, the US-Greek relationship, is fundamentally important to the United States.

    "And they have asked me to work... to make sure that US-Greek relations are strong and successful, and that we work very, very hard to improve them during the next several years.

    "Those relations are based on a military alliance that is important for both of us but also on a very deep economic and people to people ties that we hope to build upon.

    "I do look forward to working with Prime Minister Simitis, and Foreign Minister Pangalos and Defense Minister Tsohatzopoulos and all the other members of the Greek government to make sure that our relationship is one of equality, based on respect, and that it is successful".

    Mr. Burns, who was accompanied by his wife, Libby, and their three daughters, speaks French and Arabic. He and his wife have begun to learn Greek, as well.

    [02] ... Interview

    Athens, 01/12/1997 (ANA)

    In an interview published in Sunday's edition of the Athens daily "AVGI", Mr. Burns said the reunification of Cyprus was important for the United States, but needed patience.

    "Some day Cyprus can be reunited, become a united island. This is important for the US, and we shall work hard with the Greek government, in co-operation with the Greek government, towards this end. At the same time, we must be realists. These are difficult problems and will not be resolved overnight. They may not be solved in the next three years. But we shall try very hard to resolve them," he was quoted in the newspaper as saying.

    [03] Simitis to present Greek WEU presidency's program

    Paris, 01/12/1997 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The main elements of the WEU parliamentary assembly session, which starts here today, will be the address by Mr. Simitis tomorrow morning, in light of Greece's assumption of the WEU presidency as of Jan. 1, 1998.

    Mr. Simitis is expected to focus on the Greek presidency's program, as well as a summing-up account by German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel this morning - Germany currently holds the WEU's rotating six-month presidency.

    The parliamentary assembly is composed of 115 deputies, all representatives of national Parliaments.

    The session will also be addressed by WEU Secretary General Jose Cutilheiro this morning and NATO's Secretary General Javier Solana on Thursday afternoon.

    Among reports expected to be discussed of particular interest are a report by the Dutch deputy Blau on the issue of the WEU after the European Union's Amsterdam summit and NATO's summit in Madrid.

    [04] Simitis talks with French leadership begin today

    Paris, 01/12/1997 (ANA - S. Liarellis)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will hold consecutive meetings with French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin at noon today.

    Mr. Simitis' first meeting will be with Mr. Chirac at noon, expected to focus on the European Union's prospects. However, according to reports and information deduced through a statement by the French foreign ministry's spokesman on Friday, Mr. Chirac is expected to request from the Greek prime minister to lift his objections on Turkey's participation in the proposed European Conference.

    The French president is one of the champions of the idea of the Conference being convened. However, senior government sources recalled a statement by the prime minister, made also in London, that Greece will block Turkey's participation in the European Conference unless Ankara accepts the principles governing relations between European countries - acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Court at The Hague, respect for international law, etc.

    The EU's prospects and the course towards Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), employment and bilateral Greek-French relations are expected to dominate talks Mr. Simitis will have with his French counterpart Jospin, who will also give a luncheon in his honor.

    In addition, Mr. Simitis will address the West European Union's (WEU) parliamentary assembly tomorrow. At the beginning of the new year, Greece will assume the WEU's presidency.

    In the afternoon of the same day Mr. Simitis will meet former European Commission President Jacques Delors.

    Meanwhile, it appears that reports of a possible meeting between Mr. Simitis with Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz on the sidelines of the WEU session have not been confirmed because, according to diplomatic sources, Mr. Yilmaz will not come to Paris to attend the session.

    In any case, however, an official meeting between the two prime ministers had not been scheduled.

    Government sources said that Mr. Yilmaz will possibly not come to Paris, although a final decision is expected to be announced this morning.

    [05] No change in Aegean status with new NATO command structure

    Athens, 01/12/1997 (ANA)

    Turkey will not acquire operational control in the Aegean with the new NATO command structure, there is no joint sovereignty and no allocation, while Athens will not forsake its national positions on the Aegean, national defense ministry sources categorically stated, in light of a NATO defense ministers' session in Brussels tomorrow on the specific issue.

    The same sources clarified that both NATO's founding proclamation and its new strategic conception explicitly mention that in no case does the alliance deprive member-states of sovereign rights and consequently, every member-state has the exclusive responsibility for its defense and the safeguarding of its sovereign rights.

    Given that the veto principle applies in all of NATO's institutional bodies, Greece is not committed and can veto activities it believes harm its national interests, the sources stressed.

    Among others, NATO's new structure anticipates establishment of four sub-headquarters in the southern flank. One each in Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey, which will basically concern land forces and will have small staffs for the navy and air force branches.

    Generally speaking, the new headquarters to be created will be responsible and will only control NATO's activities and not national ones, in addition they will be multinational NATO entities and not a national NATO entity.

    The sources expressed concerns regarding the issue of covering the administrative posts of NATO's new administrative structure and the issue of conducting air-force operations.

    On the first issue, the sources stated categorically that Greece will not accept the placement of a non-Greek commander of the sub-headquarters proposed for basing in Larissa. On the second issue, they clarified that security valves exist which secure national interests, namely, 127 MC/CS, by which the regions to be defined for conducting operations must be approved by the military committee and where the principle of unanimity prevails.

    Additionally, the sources stressed that the Greek government will not agree to whatever phraseology indicated to create problems at a national level in connection with the document on the issue of the functioning and operation of the Combine Air Operation Center, something Turkey does not want linked to the FIR.

    [06] ... Turkish reaction

    Ankara, 01/12/1997 (A.A/ANA)

    According to a dispatch by the semi-official Anadolu news agency, Turkey yesterday denied statements by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who said Greece accepted the new commanding structure of NATO but Turkey did not and, therefore, a conflict emerged between NATO countries and Turkey.

    The Turkish foreign ministry said in a written statement that "the statements of Simitis do not reflect the truth."

    The foreign ministry announcement as reported by Anadolu continued: "Turkey proposed a plan which was supported by all NATO members last year and it also actively participated in Madrid summit where a decision was taken to urge member-countries to reach an agreement regarding the new commanding structure of NATO."

    [07] Cyprus hails announcement of specific date for EU accession talks

    Nicosia, 01/12/1997 (ANA - D. Nikolaou)

    Cyprus hailed the announcement of a specific date for the start of the island republic's accession negotiations with the European Union.

    According to an announcement by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, negotiations will start on April 10.

    Cyprus Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou told the state-run RIK Network that the announcement is a step ahead of the existing decision for commencement of negotiations in April, adding that Nicosia now awaits official notification.

    The finance minister said that unless other obstacles appear, Cyprus could be a full member in two years' time, while its economy could be in the same, if not in a better state than certain countries that are already full EU members.

    Mr. Christodoulou said that due to the implementation of measures for harmonization with the European establishment, unfavorable repercussions were experienced, particularly in public finances.

    However, he said the situation will change when Cyprus becomes a full EU member and acquires access to support funds and participates in decision-making. Mr. Christodoulou offered assurances that the economy is in a position to handle all the unfavorable repercussions until succession.

    [08] Blair on Greek-Turkish relations

    Athens, 01/12/1997 (ANA)

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said an understanding on long-term goals could help Greece and Turkey improve their relations.

    "I would like to see Greece and Turkey approach issues with greater self-confidence, a more direct communication between the two governments, and greater effort to discuss differences with sincerity and calm. An understanding on some long-term goals could help," he said in an interview with the Athens Sunday newspaper "To Vima", in an article published yesterday. "Proceeding on the basis of the principles of the Madrid communiqui, and planning on where they would like their relationship to be in 10 year's time, the two countries could find a more comfortable framework within which to make smaller steps in specific difficult issues," he added.

    Regarding Cyprus, Mr. Blair said Britain saw its EU accession in a positive light, and expressed the hope that "a serious opportunity will be given to the Turkish Cypriots to participate in the negotiations".

    The EU has scheduled the start to accession negotiations with Cyprus in April.

    [09] Permanent Vergina exhibition inaugurated

    Athens, 01/12/1997 (ANA)

    A golden urn unearthed 20 years ago containing the remains of Macedon ruler Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, a gold oak leaf crown worn by the king who united ancient Greece as well as several other findings from the royal Macedonian tombs of Vergina were permanently put on display yesterday at the spot where they were discovered.

    The artifacts are part of a permanent display that was inaugurated yesterday at the ancient Vergina site, excavated by the late archaeology professor Manolis Andronikos.

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos inaugurated the permanent exhibition of the royal treasures in Vergina, called Aiges, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Macedonia.

    Mr. Venizelos also read a message by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, underlining the importance of the double event as he noted, namely, the 20th anniversary of the successful excavations and their final shaping into an archaeological and museum site.

    His message said the findings contributed towards "equipping us with testimonies and evidence which prove the Greek origin of Macedonia beyond any doubt."

    [10] Stephanopoulos inaugurates Patra hospital's library, kidney center

    Athens, 01/12/1997 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos inaugurated a center for kidney-sufferers as well as the Agios Andreas Hospital's library in Patra yesterday.

    Health Minister Costas Geitonas was present at the event.

    President Stephanopoulos was welcomed and addressed by the facility's board of directors president Costas Harisiadis.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos said he felt a pleasant surprise while visiting the hospital and showed particular interest in both the books and the unit, which will treat longtime kidney sufferers.

    [11] Karamanlis concludes tour of Thrace

    Athens, 01/12/1997 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday, while on a tour of Thrace, said ND would always espouse the principle of equality among citizens of different religious creeds.

    "Equality before the law and in political rights is our policy. It has been the policy of New Democracy in the past, it is today, and it will be in the future," he said while visiting several predominately Greek Muslim villages in the country's northeastern province.

    "For us, it is inconceivable that there can be, and there can never be separating lines between Christian and Muslim citizens. The criterion of faith is one of man's most basic freedoms," he added.

    Meanwhile, addressing local businesspeople in Komotini on Saturday evening, Mr. Karamanlis said a program of substantial privatization and a bold cutback in waste in the public sector are among the necessary conditions for ensuring Greece's successful participation in today's competitive world.

    "If we don't soon implement a program of substantial privatization, a bold cutback in public waste, administrative reform, and of course, a change in the taxation system, then we shall have lost an opportunity to run on equal terms in the difficult competitive world that has dawned," he said.

    Mr. Karamanlis accused the government of "providing disincentives to investors with its ill-conceived fiscal policy", adding that the imposition of a 35-per cent tax on private companies was mistaken.

    Regarding the recently unveiled 1998 budget, he said that the government was increasing the tax burden under the pretext of reducing the public deficit.

    On Friday evening, the ND leader addressed the University of Thrace's polytechnic faculty, saying that problems in the education sector are known, as they were not created now but have been plaguing the country for many years.

    He said that in his view this means that through time the Greek state did not appear worthy of the expectations and pursuits of citizens, and primarily of young people.

    Mr. Karamanlis said that people today are currently living in a world of knowledge and informatics and, consequently, the society having the strategic and comparative advantage is the one capable of utilizing knowledge and its human potential through knowledge.

    [12] Upgraded Vatican participation in Patriarchate celebration

    Istanbul, 01/12/1997 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos yesterday described as a "fraternal act" the Vatican's upgraded participation in events marking the Feast Day of St. Andrew (Agios Andreas), protector of the Church of Constantinople.

    "(Your presence) certainly contributes to the maintenance of the benevolent climate which is necessary for further promoting dialogue," Vartholomeos said in addressing the Vatican delegation.

    This Roman Catholic delegation is headed this year by Cardinal Idris Cassidy, while it also includes Archbishop of Vienna Christoph Schoborn, who invited the Patriarch to visit Austria.

    "The Eastern Orthodox Church insists that dialogue is the only way of communication, understanding and exchange," the Patriarch told the delegation.

    Also present in the events were representatives of the Armenian, Syrian and Anglican Churches in Istanbul.

    [13] Papariga visits communities protesting TVX goldmine

    Athens, 01/12/1997 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, at the head of a KKE delegation, yesterday expressed her party's support for protesting residents of the Strymonikos Gulf in Halkidiki prefecture.

    Area residents have been locked in a dispute over the past few weeks regarding the operation of the local TVX goldmine, which they claim will harm the environment.

    Tension subsided when the KKE delegation and about 150 environmental activists were at first blocked by police from meeting with local residents from the Olympiada and the Varvara communities.

    [14] PASOK's Tsoukatos says party's restructuring proceeding

    Athens, 01/12/1997 (ANA)

    Speaking in Thessaloniki yesterday, ruling PASOK party executive bureau member Theodoros Tsoukatos expressed certainty that the party's restructuring is forging ahead at a time when the other political parties are going through an intense crisis.

    Addressing an event organized by PASOK's second Thessaloniki prefectural committee, Mr. Tsoukatos said the restructuring of PASOK is proceeding because it is bringing politics to the forefront and provides the party with the possibilities of playing a decisive role in developments.

    Mr. Tsoukatos hailed the registration of 70,000 new members, adding that the target of restructuring with PASOK's opening to society is that at least 10 per cent of voters become active members of the party.

    [15] Thessaloniki Film Festival ends today

    Athens, 01/12/1997 (ANA)

    The 38th Thessaloniki Film Festival will come to a close with the granting of awards today during a ceremony here.

    Veteran Greek actress Irene Papas is the non-competition star who will receive the "Golden Alexander" award.

    Forecasts so far have many actors in the running as candidates for awards. However, very few Greek films are worthy of awards, according to most film reviewers at the festival.

    In the foreign competition field the film is much clearer if one is to judge by the long queues outside projection halls and the fact very few people trickle out during the screenings.

    Noteworthy Greek films are "Vassiliki" by Vangelis Sentzaris and its protagonists Paschalis Tsarouhas and Tamila Koulieva-Karantinaki, and the "Gentleman in Gray" by Pericles Hoursoglou with Georgios Mihalakopoulos.

    In addition, the "No Budget Story" by Renos Haralambidis was acclaimed and received some good reviews.

    Popular foreign films are "Winter Hibernation" by Tom Tickver and "Tangible 24" by Shane Meadows.

    [16] Group claims responsibility for bombing of state-owned cars

    Athens, 01/12/1997 (ANA)

    The shadowy "Anti-Authority Struggle" terrorist group has assumed responsibility for the bombing of four state-owned vehicles parked outside a building housing the Institute of Geological and Metallurgical Research (IGME) at the corner of Mihalakopoulou and Mesogion avenues. The group claimed responsibility for the attacks in a proclamation sent to an Athens daily and an Athens TV/radio station.

    Two of the vehicles sustained serious damage, while the other two were slightly damaged.

    Terrorist squad police ascertained that a total of nine natural gas canisters had been placed under the vehicles and were connected to five gasoline containers. Poor wiring is suspected for the fact that only two of the nine gas canisters exploded.

    The proclamation was sent to the daily "Athinaiki" and to the SKAI Radio and TV network.

    [17] Illegal immigrants detained after landing on Crete, Samos

    Athens, 01/12/1997 (ANA)

    Forty-six illegal immigrants found roaming an inaccessible beach near Siteia, Crete were detained yesterday by port officials and police.

    According to reports, the 32 men, three women and 11 children arrived on the deserted Atherinolakos beach on Crete aboard a 20-meter wooden boat that reportedly disembarked from a port in Syria. The illegals told authorities they had paid the vessel's skipper US$2,000 each for the journey.

    The group will be brought before a prosecutor today.

    In an unrelated incident, police detained 14 illegal immigrants on Samos after a Turkish smuggler allegedly transported the group to the eastern Aegean island by speedboat, before fleeing.

    The group - eight Iraqi men, two Iraqi women and four Afghani men - was detained late Saturday after being spotted landing in the afternoon at the Prassos site, on the island's eastern tip.

    The illegal immigrants told police they had paid US$2,000 each to the Turkish national for the trip.

    They are being held with another 18 illegal immigrants that landed on Samos over the previous two days, reports state.

    [18] Turkey figures as illegals' main springboard toward Greece

    Ankara, 01/12/1997 (ANA/AFP)

    Meanwhile, Turkish authorities arrested 9,300 people since the beginning of the year for trying to cross into Greece illegally, according to Edirne, eastern Thrace, regional governor Mehmet Canceven.

    Most of the illegal immigrants are Iraqis, the Turkish official said, who explained that the figures concerned arrests which took place between January and November.

    He said that over the same period in 1996, some 6,250 people had been arrested for the same reason, meaning an increase of about 50 per cent.

    "Most of them were detained for a short while and obliged to pay a small fine. Others attempted to cross over into Greece again later on," he said.

    Out of the 9,300 illegal immigrants arrested by the Turkish authorities, 8,000 were Iraqis and the rest were from Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

    End of English language section.

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