|Friday, 14 August 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-06-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Prime minister in upbeat mood on definite succesis of 2004 Olympic Games
Athens 22/06/1998 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis was upbeat in an address to the 2004 Olympic Games National Committee's inaugural meeting at the Olympic Academy in Ancient Olympia on Saturday, saying that the Olympiad is a great opportunity to show the image of modern Gree ce.
"Organising the Olympic Games in 2004 is a great opportunity for us to show the image of modern Greece. All of us together will succeed in the difficult task we have ahead of us. And the results will be worthy of our expectations. We can succeed and will shall succeed," he said.
Mr. Simitis said that the choice of Athens was not an act of grace for Greece, nor a self-evident gesture of honour for the ancient Olympic spirit. He said it was recognition that modern-day Greece has the possibilities and can undertake such a great in ternational event, the greatest sports event in the world and one of the greatest events of world communication such as the Olympic Games are.
"Consequently, we are burdened with commitments towards the International Olympic Committee and the world Olympic family. However, we are primarily burdened by commitments towards our very selves. Towards our cultural heritage, towards the modern and optimistic image of Greece," he said.
"We must succeed for the sake of Greece of creation, we must also succeed for the sake of young people, our children who will play a leading role tomorrow. They demand a much more powerful Greece, a society with more space for healthy competition, imagi nation, creative meditation, pioneering ideas and for a human and substantive life as well," he added.
Mr. Simitis said that the appropriate preparation and success of the final result are unbreakably bound with two major political choices of Greek society. Firstly, he added, this success will provide a considerable impetus to the country's modernisation and development and, secondly, will secure an equally important promotion of Greece, modern and creative Greece, on the international front.
"One of the steadfast targets of the effort we have been making for years is the country's modernisation. The Olympic Games are an excellent opportunity for development and modernisation to forge ahead with greater speed. The more necessary infrastructu res for the Games to be held are completed, the more investments are strengthened, the more necessary development projects are carried out, the more tourist policy targets are served and we contribute towards widening the possibilities of the country and all of us," he said.
Mr. Simitis said that the second fundamental target of the Athens 2004 Olympiad is the conquest of another scale of prestige for the country in the international environment.
"A strong and open society is in constant pursuit of international backing, it tries constantly to widen its sphere of influence and struggles to infiltrate new spheres of action. And we want an open and powerful society. Modern-day Greece is proceeding along this path and it must promote its comparative advantages and highlight its conquests, achievements and performances," he said.
"Organising the Olympic Games started from the moment that the International Olympic Committee's decision was announced in Lausanne. We moved from the very start having full consciousness of time. But, in parallel, with the will to show that Greece is a ware of the comparative facts and can make the most effective, the most flexible and the most economically-suitable choices," he added.
Principles : Mr. Simitis pointed out that all these activities are governed by four principles.
"Firstly, full respect for the timetable and the obligations stemming from the contract on the awarding of the 2004 Games. Secondly, commitment to the legality and strict rules of transparency which have been initiated under the direct supervision of the Auditing Council. Thirdly, close and productive cooperation with the International Olympic Committee and international federations. And, fourthly, continuous briefing of Parliament and of the National Committee and the universal mobilisation of all the forces of the country," he said.
"We believe that the success of our targets depends on the observance of two principles. The principle of transparency and the principle of wider social rallying," he added.
Mr. Simitis said that in connection with the first principle, preparation of the 2004 Olympiad entails in itself a considerable investment in infrastructures, adding that the country's intention is to have all necessary processes carried out in a status of full transparency.
"This is the reason, for me to refer to certain examples, that the Organising Committee's administrative audit is exercised by the Auditing Council's judicial functiona-ries or where the legality of the selection of its staff is checked by the Suprem Council of Staff Selection (ASEP). The need for flexibility and speed does not rule out, on the contrary, it necessitates respect for legality," he said.
Mr. Simitis said that regarding the second principle, that of wider social rallying, the effort crosses the entire country, all productive factors, all regions and all the social and political forces.
"This universal activation of the country, under the aegis of the President of the Republic, is expressed and organised by the National Committee. This is shown by its very composition. The agencies represented and the personalities participating consti tute proof of this," he said.
"The preparation of the Olympic Games in 2004 is a unique opportunity for the promotion of an important initiative which has already been processed by the Culture Ministry and was unanimously ratified by UNESCO's General Assembly, the initiative of the Cultural Olympiad. Not only of the first Cultural Olympiad of 2000-2004 but of a permanent international non- governmental institution headquartered in Ancient Olympia," he said.
The meeting was also addressed by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, the President of the Athens 2004 Organising Committee Stratis Stratigis and representatives of the political parties.
Addresses were made by main opposition New Democracy party representative Tzannis Tzannetakis, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos and Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas.
Athens News Agency
 Ionian Bank employees end six- week strike
Athens 22/06/1998 (ANA)Employees at Ionian Bank end their six-week strike today and return to work, a general assembly of workers decided late on Saturday.
The decision to end the strike came a day after shareholders in Ionian's parent company Commercial Bank voted to sell a 51 percent stake in the bank, at a late night meeting on Friday called after protesting Ionian workers disrupted and eventually cancelled the scheduled morning meeting.
Employees at Ionian Bank have staged a rolling strike since May 11 to protest the privatisation, despite court rulings declaring the strike illegal.
On hearing of the end of the strike, both Commercial Bank management and National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou reiterated an earlier commitment to safeguarding jobs and pension rights of workers at Ionian.
Earlier on Saturday, speaking at Ancient Olympia where the National Committee for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games was meeting, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the government was determined to continue with implementing its reforms and making structural changes to the economy.
The sale of Ionian is being seen as a test of the government's determination to carry out its privatisation programme in the face of strikes and protests, as it has committed itself to the European Union over the privatisation plan.
Athens made the commitment when the drachma was incorporated into the EU's exchange rate mechanism on March 14, as a stepping stone to the 15-nation bloc's Economic and Monetary Union, which Greece hopes to join by January 1, 2001.
The International Monetary Fund has urged a more aggressive sale of state banks in order to streamline the sprawling state sector.
Athens News Agency
 Greek-Turkish peace march on Samos
Athens 22/06/1998 (ANA)A peace march, which also included 20 Turks from various peace organisations from three Turkish cities, took place in Samos yesterday.
Athens News Agency
 Clinton phone call to Simitis not of a threatening nature
Athens 22/06/1998 (ANA)U.S. President Bill Clinton's phone call to Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis during the European Union's summit at Cardiff last week was a phone call to a friend and ally and not calculated to force Greece into making any unilateral concessions, U.S. a mbassador to Greece Nicholas Burns said.
In an interview published in Sunday's newspaper To Vima, Mr. Burns said President Clinton never intended the phone call to be perceived as any form of "threat".
Mr. Simitis last Tuesday disclosed that he had received a telephone call from the U.S. president on Monday night requesting that Athens consent to a strengthening of the European Union's relations with Turkey, since this would allow Washington to exerci se all its influence on Ankara towards normalising Greek-Turkish relations.
Mr. Simitis said he had told President Clinton it was not possible for Greece to accept any rewording of the Luxembourg summit decisions regarding the EU's relations with Turkey.
"I told President Clinton that his approach to EU-Turkey relations was not correct and that Greece's position could not be changed," Mr. Simitis said.
"It is Turkey which must change its stance, accepting for instance Greece's proposal that Ankara refer its claims regarding the Imia islets to the International Court at The Hague," Mr. Simitis said.
He noted that President Clinton was not satisfied by his reply.
Mr. Burns said that President Clinton had only wanted to talk to Mr. Simitis about the U.S. hope that at Cardiff and after Cardiff there might be progress in Greek-Turkish relations.
Tsohatzopoulos calls on Turkey to fulfill terms of coexistence : Turkey has no ground for provocations, more threats and bravado, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Saturday in reference to Turkish provocations over the issue of Cyprus.
"Peaceful coexistence between the peoples in the region is a basic precondition to which all are subjected and no one can overturn this reality," he said.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos called on Turkey to fulfill the terms of coexistence and cooperation governing all European countries so as to secure its future close to Europe.
He made his statement following an address at a scientific conference in the framework of Navy Week.
Athens News Agency
 FYROM foreign minister begins two-day visit tomorrow
Athens 22/06/1998 (ANA)Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Foreign Minister Blagoja Hatzinski begins an official two-day visit to Greece tomorrow and is expected to raise the issue of the name of his country in his meetings with Greek government officials.
In an interview published in yesterday's edition of the To Vima newspaper, Mr. Hatzinski rules out any change to FYROM's constitutional name of "Republic of Macedonia", saying his compatriots would refuse such a proposal "100 percent" if a referendum we re held on the issue.
Mr. Hatzinski said no resolution of the name issue would nevertheless require Greece and FYROM to "learn to live with the problem with dignity as their strategic interests coincide in 99 percent of cases."
Greece objects to the former Yugoslav republic's use of the name "Macedonia", saying it implies expansionist designs against its northern province of the same name.
Under an interim agreement signed by the two neighbouring countries in New York in September 1995 under UN auspices, Greece and FYROM have been conducting discussions to find a mutually acceptable solution.
Developments in the Balkans will also be on the agenda of Mr. Hatzinski's talks.
Athens News Agency
 Kranidiotis criticises US of policy error
NICOSIA 22/06/1998 (ANA-G. Leonidas)Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis yesterday criticised the United States of a policy error in basing its initiative to resolve the Cyprus issue on equal treatment of Turkish and Cypriot entry into the European Union.
"The levers for pressure (US presidential emissary on Cyprus) Richard Holbrooke is seeking to use are those of the EU. It would be good if he sought levers to exert pressure that the US have in the economic sector," Mr. Kranidiotis told the Cypriot Phil eleftheros newspaper.
"Only if the US really pressures Turkey is there a chance of Ankara changing its line on the Cyprus issue ... The EU lever belongs to the EU, which is using it appropriately and effectively," Mr. Kranidiotis said in an interview.
He said that Athens and Nicosia should work hard to ensure the island republic's entry into the first wave of EU expansion.
"This is the strongest negotiating tool, and it belongs to our side," Mr. Kranidiotis said.
He also said Turkey had begun to review its strategic aims in Cyprus following the island republic's progress towards EU entry. Greece should remain in a state of readiness, but cool-headed in the face of Turkish provocation.
Mr. Holbrooke, also the newly appointed ambassador to the United Nations for the US, is due to arrive in Athens today accompanied by the US State Department's Cyprus coordinator, Thomas Miller.
Mr. Holbrooke is considering transferring his Cyprus portfolio to another official following the UN appointment, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said on Thursday.
Athens News Agency
 Turkish admiral says Turkey has no right to prevent passage of ships
ANKARA 22/06/1998 (ANA - A. Ambatzis)Former Turkish Navy Chief Guven Erkaya said yesterday that Turkey has no right to prevent the passage of ships from the straits even if they are carrying S-300 missiles. Mr. Erkaya was placed in retirement last August and since then he has been an adviser for Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz on issues concerning the straits.
In an interview published in the newspaper Milliyet yesterday, Mr. Erkaya also referred to the recent crisis in Cyprus and claimed that there will be no hot incident.
Replying to a question on whether it was true that according to the Montreux accord, Turkey has no right to stop and check ships passing through the straits, Mr. Erkaya said "yes, we have no such right. Whatever the cargo and the flag of the ship, it has the right of passage", adding that "the sole condition for passage to be prevented is for a trial to be pending."
Athens News Agency
 Palestinian and Israeli personalities to assemble in Rhodes
Athens 22/06/1998 (ANA)A meeting between personalities from Israel and Palestine will take place in Rhodes between July 1-5 in the presence of European Union envoy to the Middle East Miguel Angel Moratinos.
The meeting will also be attended by Israel's Labour and Culture ministers, the Palestinians' negotiators Hussein and Saad, as well as other officials.
The meeting is taking place with the mediation of Greece as well, while Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis will be attending.
Parallel to the meeting, a journalistic conference will be held on the island, organised by the International Centre for Peace in the Middle East. It will be attended by about 90 journalists from Israel and Palestine, as well as foreign press correspond ents based in Tel Aviv.
The conference will start on July 2 with an address by Mr. Kranidiotis. Issues to be examined include the role played by the mass media in resolving local disputes, the image of the Palestinians and the Israelis before and after the Oslo agreement and the role played by the European media in the Middle East.
Athens News Agency
 Balkan borders must be safeguarded and respected, Tsohatzopoulos says
VIENNA 22/06/1998 (ANA/D.Dimitrakoudis)National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday said the international community should make clear that it would never accept border changes leading to an independent Kosovo and that the only acceptable solution was the safeguarding and respect of present borders in the Balkan region.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was addressing the 15th NATO working session, which began here.
The defence minister also advocated for a peaceful solution of the Kosovo crisis, adding that a basis for such a solution was provided by the recent accord between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Russian President Boris Yeltsin for the resumpt ion of an unconditional dialogue between the two sides and the commitments undertaken by Mr. Milosevic.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also underlined that "attempts by the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army to exploit the situation and its use of violence should in no way be accepted, for its aim is independence and not broad autonomy of the province".
In the NATO session, the first to be held in a neutral country, participants include NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, the presidents of Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and defence and foreign ministers of NATO member-states and count ries participating in the Partnership for Peace programme.
Hope for positive climate In an interview to ANA, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos expressed hope that Turkey would utilise the possibilities given to it by the recent European Union Cardiff Summit results in order to "open new prospects in its relations to the EU and indirectly create a positi ve climate in its relations with Greece".
Athens News Agency
 Germany called on to pay reparations
Athens 22/06/1998 (ANA)The three-day "Greek-German Friendship Conference on Reparations" came to a close in Delphi yesterday with the adoption of a resolution calling on the German Federal Republic to recognise crimes perpetrated during the German occupation of Greece in WW2 an d the destruction of the Greek economy.
"The Conference calls on the German government to recognise the historical and political responsibility towards the victims and to apologise. It also calls on it to schedule the payment of compensation for these victims and to make some kind of reparati on for the misery and destruction they experienced, on condition that reparation not to fully depict reality. It must request dialogue with the victims and the Greek government and not to try to gain time with methodisations," it said.
The conference was held at a peculiar conjuncture concerning the history of German reparations, since the time limit for appealing the ruling taken by a court in the town of Levadia expires today. According to the ruling, the German government is obliged to compensate the victims of the Distomo massacre with about nine billion drachmas.
The German government does not recognise the jurisdiction of Greek courts in adjudicating reparation cases. At the same time, German courts are refusing to compensate the victims of the Wermacht and the SS.
Lastly, the German state considers that it is too late for such issues to be raised and implies that in the past, after the payment of 115 million marks by Germany in 1960 to compensate Jews and Greek political prisoners, Greek prime ministers waived the right to raise such claims.
With their resolution, the Greek and German delegates recognise the injustice which the German state is continuing to do to Greece and call for its correction.
Athens News Agency
 Gov't determined to succeed in targets it has set,says PM
Athens 22/06/1998 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday reiterated his government's determination to succeed in targets it has set for the viable and balanced development of the country.
Mr. Simitis was addressing the mayor of Ancient Olympia after arriving in the framework of the first meeting of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games National Committee.
"Our government is determined to succeed in the targets it has set for the viable and balanced development of the country, for the modernisation and competitiveness of our economy, for the safeguarding of the geopolitical position and the strengthening of the international role of Greece. Stability, development and social protection. The results of this policy, of these choices of ours, appeared at the recent summit in Cardiff where Greece confirmed its strength and international prestige," he said.
"They are visible in the fruit of the Greek people's arduous and pannational effort over the past five years. The drastic decrease in inflation and deficits, the considerable increase in the rate of development, the increase in real income and the decre ase in regional inequalities constitute tangible proof of the results which already exist," he added.
Referring to trade union activities in the country, Mr. Simitis said that "no trade union reaction can stop us. No effort by small groups using force as a weapon can create an obstacle in the country's development, the prosperity and acquired interests of all the Greeks."
Mr. Simitis said that the government is exactly in the middle of its term of office and has more than two years before it to complete the implementation of its programme and present the results of a policy which is succeeding in its targets step-by-step .
"The citizens see, judge and compare. In the general elections in the year 2000 they will choose and decide, for one more time, programmes and prospects, groupings, parties and leaders. They will evaluate our effort which is a positive, rich and creative task," he said.
Athens News Agency
 Memorial service held for statesman Andreas Papandreou
Athens 22/06/1998 (ANA)A memorial service was held at the Athens First Cemetery yesterday to mark the second anniversary of the death of prime minister and founder of the ruling socialist PASOK party Andreas Papandreou.
The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, members of the government, PASOK deputies and officials, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, Andreas Papandreou's widow Dimitra Liani-Papandreou, members of the Papandreou family and a large crowd of people.
Mr. Simitis said on arrival at the cemetery that the work of Andreas Papandreou is a source of inspiration and quest.
Mr. Simitis said yesterday was a "day of memory", adding that Andreas Papandreou organised the first wide socialist movement in Greece, gave a new orientation to foreign policy, safeguarded equality of rights for citizens and created structures for the country's development, setting the preconditions in this way for the course of Greece's equal accession to the European Union.
"Let us be inspired by his work and let us seek what is new," he said.
On his part, PASOK Central Committee Secretary Costas Skandalidis said that Andreas Papandreou lives in the thoughts, the hearts and the lives of all and always inspires, unites and leads PASOK.
George Papandreou, son of the late statesman, said in a statement that he wishes to stress the love and warmth of the people since all remember Andreas.
Athens News Agency
 'Promitheas '98" exercises get under way in Kilkis
Athens 22/06/1998 (ANA)Partnership for Peace and NATO member-states armed contingents initiated on Saturday the joint military exercises "Promitheas '98", which include refugee handling scenarios and are set to last until June 30, 1st Army officials announced.
PFP nations, Armenia, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Italian, Dutch and Greek soldiers are already in place at the Kilkis prefecture, the 1st Army announcement noted.
The announcement added that while the exercise had been planned for some time now, it has coincided with the Kosovo crisis and this development will affect the scenarios of the exercises.
It should be noted that the exercises in Kilkis are part of the NATO-PFP framework for the inter-opperational coordination between the armed forces of the participants in peace-keeping missions.
Athens News Agency
 Karamanlis says Epirus is in urgent need of development
Athens 22/06/1998 (ANA)Speaking in Ioannina yesterday, main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said that the Epirus region needs a great effort to restore damaged confidence between the state and citizens.
Mr. Karamanlis, who concluded a tour of Ioannina and the Aetoloakarnania prefecture, was speaking at a meeting organised by his party on the development of Epirus and employment.
"Epirus lies outside the major networks, such as those of energy, while it holds the regrettable record of the poorest region in the European Union and the region with the highest unemployment indicator. It has low absorptions in the Community Support Framework and whatever choices for projects made were not the result of comprehensive planning but were fragmental. The Egnatia motorway, a project of paramount national significance and national priority, is being delayed unjustifiably. We have no other ground for delays," he said.
Mr. Karamanlis also said that Epirus joining the fourth zone of incentives together with Thrace was a paramount priority.
He said that the agricultural economy was in an unprecedented deadlock and denounced government policy being applied, saying that "there are no easy solutions and serious proposals must be shaped in agricultural policy."
Athens News Agency
 Papoutsis outlines Commission's policies on trade
Athens 22/06/1998 (ANA)European Union Energy Commissioner Christos Papoutsis analysed the European Commission's policies on trade and small and average-size enterprises, as well as Greek trade prospects at the annual general assembly of the National Confederation of Greek Trade (ESEE) held last night at a downtown Athens hotel in the presence of President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and representatives of parties and foreign trade delegations.
Development Undersecretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis addressed the assembly on the part of the government, referring to the structural problems faced by trade and to structural changes which must be done and which are being promoted by the government.
Athens News Agency