|Saturday, 15 August 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-09-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 ECOFIN council pleased with course of EU economy
VIENNA 28/09/1998 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)The three-day council of European Union finance and economy ministers (ECOFIN) concluded here yesterday with the overall ascertainment that Europe's economy has turned into an "oasis of stability and development" following the euro's introduction.
Greece was represented by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou as well as the governor of the Bank of Greece, Loukas Papademos.
Mr. Papantoniou said the result of this development is that over the next few years the prospect will be shaped for the continuation of the present recovery and of relatively high rates of economic development, at least in most European Union member-states.
He said that Greece is certainly included in this respect, as its economy has an even higher development rate, reaching 3.5-3.7 per cent in 1999.
Mr. Papantoniou mentioned during the discussion on the "Agenda 2000" programme, which preoccupied the last session of ECOFIN, that Greece mostly agrees with the content as set out by the European Commission but considers that the 1.27 per cent limit concerning the EU's own resources does not appear capable of corresponding to the needs existing for the promotion of EU policies, particularly in relation with cohesion.
He stressed the danger of the inadequacy of resources while referring in particular to uncertainties existing on the cost of enlargement and also possible savings from the reshaping of common agricultural policy.
Mr. Papantoniou stressed the need of maintaining the privileged character of structural expenditures which are absolutely necessary for the completion of the major infrastructure projects in Greece. He also expressed support for maintaining the own criteria in the operation of the Cohesion Fund which also contributes to a great degree to the realisation of these expenditures and the implementation of these programmes.
Duisenberg : Meanwhile, European Central Bank President Wim Duisenberg categorically denied reports appearing in several Athens newspapers on Saturday, regarding alleged comments attributed to him and referring to the Greek drachma.
Of other interest was a communique hailing the accession of the drachma to the second Exchange Rate Mechanism, as a result of the positive development of the Greek economy.
Mr. Duisenberg met Mr. Papantoniou in Vienna on Saturday and categorically denied that he had made any statement concerning the drachma, while he expressed surprise over such reports in the Greek press.
The communique issued by the ECOFIN council in Vienna hails the joining of the drachma to the second Exchange Rate Mechanism which, as stressed, was agreed by all and is based on the satisfactory functioning of the drachma in the framework of the existing mechanism, as well as on the major progress achieved in the Greek economy's convergence with those of EU member-states. It was added that the fluctuation margin remains 15 per cent.
Referring to the communique, Mr. Papantoniou said that it constituted a very positive formulation with regard to Greece. He said that the second Exchange Rate Mechanism constitutes a continuation of the existing one and of the existing fluctuation margins.
Athens News Agency
 Simitis ends tour of Aetoloakarnania, region's projects
Athens 28/09/1998 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday ended a two-day tour of the Aetoloakarnania prefecture by saying that projects taking place in the region are remedying injustice, namely, the delay of the region's development.
Speaking in the town of Messolongi, he said that Aetoloakarnania is entering a period of development and optimism, since many projects are either underway or have been scheduled and whose duration will last for many years, as well as creating new jobs in the region.
Mr. Simitis visited a detour road project in the town of Agrinio and said that this section constitutes the beginning of the country's western road axis which will restore a balance between eastern and western Greece.
He also visited the new hospital in Messolongi and afterwards met with officials from Aetoloakarnania in the building housing the prefectural offices. Lastly, he paid a visit to the town's historical town hall.
Mr. Simitis said that Greece is forging ahead and PASOK is showing the course towards the future. Works are being conducted everywhere and a different Greece is gradually being created, a powerful Greece, he said, adding that there is the feeling everyw here that a major project has got underway to improve the lot and the prospect of citizens.
On Saturday, Mr. Simitis addressed a large outdoor rally in Agrinio, calling on people to join forces to achieve the targets set for a "powerful Greece of prosperity and social justice." He also pointed to struggles made by his ruling PASOK party as well as his government to reverse the country's image.
Replying to criticism that he is only preoccupied with Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), Mr. Simitis said that "EMU is one aspect of government policy," adding that the government's interest is primarily turned to the individual and not figures. Referring to economic policy, Mr. Simitis said that it is the sole policy capable of leading the country ahead. Focusing in particular on tax policy, he said that it serves the target of the haves contributing to the burdens of adjustment.
Replying to criticism of "heartlessness" in government policy, he said that tax policy measures primarily concern them, adding that it will be heartless in achieving social justice and social cohesion.
Mr. Simitis conceded that wage-earners are making their contribution with toils and sacrifices for the country's targets to be achieved and promised that even the last drachma of the Greek citizen will be utilised.
Mr. Simitis accused the opposition of "promising miracles and policies which have not been implemented anywhere and that it claims that benefits should be given to various trade unions." He said that this was a "right- wing policy" which has been condemned by the Greek people.
He also referred to foreign policy saying that Greece has shown the course towards peace and stability in the Balkans. He said that his government also has a policy for the Balkan region, a position that he supported on two occasions: the summit of Balk an nation prime ministers which started in Crete last year and will be repeated in Antalya, Turkey, on October 11 and 12, and the meeting between the prime ministers of Greece, Romania and Bulgaria which will take place in Delphi.
Mr. Simitis referred in particular to the handling of European issues, saying that thanks to negotiations being carried out by the government more than 10 trillion drachmas will flow into the country from the third Community Support Framework which, tog ether with national funds, will amount to 16 trillion drachmas. He said that so much money has never come into the country in the past.
At the beginning of his address, Mr. Simitis referred to the recent hostage incident in central Athens and the botched police raid, attributing it indirectly as well as other events, to new conditions emanating from open borders and economic immigration .
Mr. Simitis said the new situation must be confronted with determination and conditions of security must be created for the Greek citizen. He added citizens' security and the combatting of crime will be one of the top priorities of government policy.
Athens News Agency
 Karamanlis says gov't in `state of dissolution`,during ONNED rally
Athens 28/09/1998 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday stressed that Greece currently projects an image of "sadness, disappointment, stagnation and decline," while he said unemployment is being felt by every Greek family.
Addressing a rally at the ND-affiliated youth group's (ONNED) festival outside the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliro yesterday evening, Mr. Karamanlis strongly criticised the Simitis government over its handling of major issues, saying that the government lacked boldness and that there was a worsening in all sectors instead of an improvement.
Referring to last week's bloody incident in central Athens, in which a Greek-Romanian fugitive wounded more than 10 people with a hand grenade after taking four people hostage, Mr. Karamanlis said: "a few days ago the government showed that it is in a state of dissolution and that Greeks are vulnerable and isolated. Any crook can violate a Greek family and harm the physical integrity of citizens. The Simitis government has grave political responsibilities, particularly Mr. Simitis himself."
Referring to economic issues, he said the cases of Olympic Airways, Greece's debt-ridden national carrier, and of Ionian Bank were fiascos, adding that there must be respect for the tax-paying citizen, "who is constantly paying, without his money having any impact."
Commenting on national issues, Mr. Karamanlis said that Greece must defend its national rights, and not experience humiliations such as that during the crisis over the Imia islets (in January 1996), as he noted.
"The struggle for tomorrow will not be made with dividing lines but will be a struggle between the past and decline with the forces of tomorrow and of progress," he said.
Gov't reaction : In reply later in the evening, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that "Karamanlis' time has passed before it even arrived, since the ND leader once again lost the opportunity to appear useful for the country and his party...His speech did not provide anything new. Mr. Karamanlis lacks vision and wisdom and he has chosen to permanently speak with slogans and to be vague."
Mr. Reppas added that Mr. Karamanlis vindicated what he called his reputation as "a politician of words".
Athens News Agency
 SE European countries agree on regional peacekeeping force
SKOPJE 28/09/1998 (ANA - M. Vihou)An agreement on the creation of a peacekeeping force by southeastern Europe countries was signed here on Saturday, although several issues remained undecided, such as the headquarters for the new force.
The agreement was signed during a meeting of defence ministers from Greece, Turkey, Italy, the US, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Slovenia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Commenting on the creation of the multinational peacekeeping force, National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said it was a good step towards strengthening security and stability in a region which has traditional flashpoints.
He added that "an instrument was created to implement a collective security policy."
The multinational peacekeeping force is expected to be activated in the second half of 1999. Greece also made a proposal, which was initially accepted, for the creation of a centre for managing crises in the Balkans.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also briefed his counterparts that at the end of the year a centre will begin operating in Kilkis, northern Greece, to train officers and soldiers from countries participating in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme with the purp ose of backing peacekeeping operations.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos concluded by saying that through the strengthening of regional security flashpoints in the region can be tackled decisively, adding that Greek-Turkish issues could be included in such a framework.
He said that for this reason "we must not be simple spectators or participants but we must develop initiatives to strengthen such institutions of collective security."
No talks on Greek-Turkish issues : In another development, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos denied statements by Turkish Defence Minister Ismet Sezgin, who indirectly noted that bilateral issues were also discussed during their meeting on Friday.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that during the two-hour talks with his Turkish counterpart, they discussed the settlement of issues concerning the signing of the agreement for the creation of the multinational peacekeeping force as well as problems in the wider region.
"We had no dialogue on Turkey's claims against Greece. We merely ascertained that we have the possibility of effective cooperation in the framework of NATO and the OSCE and that we both desire to support initiatives which will strengthen security instit utions in the Balkan and Black Sea region," he said.
Athens News Agency
 CoE political affairs committee sessions on Santorini
Athens 28/09/1998 (ANA)Sessions of the Council of Europe's political affairs committee began on the island of Santorini on Saturday, with sessions to end today.
Talks will focus on the enlargement of the CoE and the crisis in the Serbian province of Kosovo.
The meeting, held at the initiative of the council's Greek presidency, was opened by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou. Also under discussion will be the Council of Europe's general contribution to the consolidation of peace and inter- state cooperation.
Concerning the Kosovo crisis, Mr. Papandreou said that border checks should be increased in neighbouring countries so as to isolate the region and prevent a spill of the tension. Asked to comment on the possibility of NATO intervention, Mr. Papan dreou said that "the fear of an invasion may be useful in order for the Serbian side to sit at the negotiating table."
Athens News Agency
 Europarliament's Spencer confident Cyprus will join EU
Athens 28/09/1998 (ANA)Cyprus will become a member of the European Union regardless of developments over the Cyprus problem, the president of the Europarliament's foreign affairs committee, Tom Spencer, told reporters in Thessaloniki yesterday.
Mr. Spencer was in Thessaloniki to take part in a European Peoples' Party and New Democracy Eurodeputies' conference on the topic of "Urban Environment and the Quality of Life: Thessaloniki and the European experience".
Also present at the meeting was the vice-president of the European Parliament, Nicole Fontaine.
Mr. Spencer said Cyprus' EU accession would reduce the possibility of any Turkish offensive on the island.
Turkey's own prospects for joining the EU, he added, were tied in with other issues, such as the human rights situation.
Athens News Agency
 Athens denies Turkish claim citing military exercese in eastern Aegean
ISTANBUL 28/09/1998 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Greek diplomats in Ankara on Saturday denied Turkish claims, namely, that Greece had cancelled a military exercise in the eastern Aegean.
"No such exercise had been planned," diplomatic sources said.
A written statement by the Turkish foreign ministry on Friday evening claimed that the Greek charge d'affaires in the Turkish capital had informed Turkish officials earlier last week that the "exercise" had been cancelled, following Turkey's insistence that Ankara would in no way accept Greek claims of sovereignty over the area surrounding the Imia islets, where the alleged exercise would supposedly take place.
The area was the scene of a serious Greek-Turkish stand-off that brought the two countries to the brink of war in late January 1996. The ministry statement expresses the hope that "logic will prevail in Greece and that the Greek government will show responsible behaviour that will not lead to tension in future".
Greek diplomatic sources interpreted the statement as an attempt to reiterate Turkish claims regarding the legal status of certain areas in the eastern Aegean.
In Athens, a foreign ministry statement stressed on Saturday that the Turkish ministry announcement "not only doesn't correspond to reality, but is a distortion of reality revealing bad faith."
"No exercise in the Imia region has been planned, therefore, it is not possible to be cancelled. The only exercise that has taken place was the 'Parmenion' exercise in the broader region of the island of Hios," the foreign ministry statement added.
"The Imia islets are a part of Greece's sovereignty, something proved through international treaties. It's self-evident that this reality is in no way undermined by announcements or illegal Turkish actions," the statement concluded.
Athens News Agency
 Tsohatzopoulos in Cyprus for independence day anniversary
NICOSIA 28/09/1998 (ANA)National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos arrives in Cyprus on Wednesday for talks with Cypriot military officials.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos is also expected to attend a military parade on Oct. 1, the Cyprus Republic's independence day.
In an interview published yesterday with the Nicosia newspaper "Fileleftheros", Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that Greece and other countries in the region were concerned about the military cooperation between Turkey and Israel, saying he would bring up the issue in talks he is due to have soon in Athens with his Israeli counterpart.
Asked about the Hellenic Air Force's participation in the Cypriot military exercise "Nikiforos", the Greek minister said:
"All the activities we participated in last year will be repeated. I don't think Cyprus' and Greece's schedule of military exercises is anybody's concern."
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos' plane was buzzed by Turkish warplanes last year as he flew to and returned from Cyprus to observe the annual exercise.
Athens News Agency
 Coroners: Matei choked on his own vomit
Athens 28/09/1998 (ANA)Coroners ruled yesterday that notorious Greek-Romanian fugitive Sorin Matei died by choking on his own vomit, fol lowing initial findings from an autopsy on the man.
Matei, who died suddenly late Saturday morning while being treated at the Korydallos prison's hospital, was at the centre of Wednesday's botched police raid in central Athens, which left one hostage and a police officer seriously injured.
Four coroners assigned to conduct the autopsy on Matei said the 25-year-old escaped convict had choked to death, as a result of being heavily sedated and bound. They also stated that he should not have been moved to the prison hospital. Matei had been under sedation and heavy police guard since late on Wednesday.
He had held police at bay for hours and threatened to detonate a hand grenade in a central Athens apartment in which he was holding three hostages.
On the day he died, he was scheduled to give a statement to a prosecutor assigned the inquiry into the details of the raid, which left a total of 12 people, including the head and deputy chief of Greek police, injured. The head of the Greek Police resig ned and two other senior police officials were replaced in the wake of severe criticism of police's handling of the raid.
The coroners' report criticised the fact that Matei had remained heavily sedated and in a supine position for an extended period of time, a fact which had led directly to his choking on his own vomit. The four coroners also criticised the dec ision to transfer him from Nikaia State Hospital to the prison. "Sorin Matei showed external superficial wounds but (had) internal wounds which were more serious, and he should not have been given medicine which kept him in extended sedation, particul arly when combined with the fact that he was tied to the (hospital) bed," one of the acting coroners, Vyron Kanakis, told reporters.
Another inquiry is already under way, on the orders of Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos, regarding the circumstances of Matei being transferred to the prison hospital.
Cypriot coroner Marios Matsakis, present at the autopsy on the request of Matei's family, also said that the notorious fugitive had injuries which had been inflicted after the explosion of the grenade.
The autopsy began at midday.
Mr. Matsakis, a coroner who served for short while with the Cypriot health ministry and is presently a member of Cyprus' House of Representatives, flew in from the island republic yesterday morning.
A report on the definitive cause of Matei's death will be issued on completion of all toxicology and other tests.
In statements to reporters after the announcement of the coroners' findings, Matei's lawyer and members of his family said there were still many questions about the death of the Greek-Romanian that demanded answers.
Matei's stepfather told reporters earlier in the day that had his stepson lived he could have shed light on the seven minutes prior to the detonation of the grenade.
On their part, opposition parties requested that the government investigate and release all the details surrounding Matei's death. The main opposition New Democracy party, as well as the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party and the Dem ocratic Social Movement (DHKKI) made relevant statements.
Ginaki still listed in stable condition : Meanwhile, Amalia Ginaki, the hostage who was severely injured in the incident, continues to be listed in a stable but critical condition at an Athens hospital. She has lost her right leg, had most of her right hip removed, while she has also sustained se vere abdominal injuries.
She was expected to go into surgery later yesterday in an effort to control possible internal bleeding.
Athens News Agency
 Polish army's chief of staff in Greece
Athens 28/09/1998 (ANA)Polish Army General Staff Chief Lt.-Gen. Zvignieu Zalewski will begin an official three-day visit to Greece today at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Lt.-Gen. Manousos Paragioudakis.
During his stay, the Polish army's commander will visit Greece's military headquarters, a training centre, the Third Army Corps, as well as archaeological sites in Athens and Thessaloniki. Lt.-Gen. Zalewski will depart Greece on Oct. 1.
Athens News Agency
 Greek runner wins 16th annual "Spartathlon '98"
Athens 28/09/1998 (ANA)A Greek runner won the 16th international ultra-distance race "Spartathlon '98" on Saturday. Costas Reppos, who won the race for the second consecutive year, covered the distance in 25 hours, 11 minutes, 41 seconds. He led the race from start to finish.
Also taking part in the race, which began on Friday at the foot of the Acropolis, were 196 athletes from 23 countries.
Runners covered the 246 kilometres to Sparta, tracing the steps of the ancient Athenian courier Pheidippides. A Japanese and a Briton took second and third place, respectively.
Athens News Agency
 Balkan bilateral,multilateral cooperation to be discussed in Delphi
Athens 28/09/1998 (ANA)Bilateral and multilateral cooperation between Greece, Bulgaria and Romania as well as the situation in the region will be the main issues which will be discussed between Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov and Romanian Presi dent Emil Constantinescu in Delphi on Oct. 3-4, according to a Bulgarian presidency press release on Saturday.
An ANA dispatch from Sofia quoted the press release as saying that the tripartite meeting will contribute in balancing inter-state relations between the Balkan countries for the promotion of economic cooperation and for stability in the Balkans.
Other issues to be discussed by the three leaders will be the combatting of organised crime and plans for the enlargement of the European Union and NATO.
Athens News Agency