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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-02-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Simitis accuses opposition of impeding country's progress
  • [02] Karamanlis predicts ND victory in next elections, lashes out at gov't farm policy
  • [03] Bulgarian VP cites upcoming Simitis visit to Sofia
  • [04] G. Papandreou on Kosovo negotiations
  • [05] Press report states Ocalan ready to ask Greece, other European nations for asylum
  • [06] Greek participation in upcoming NATO exercise
  • [07] Karamanlis: Wrong policy on S-300s led to defeat
  • [08] Tsohatzopoulos on measures against drug use
  • [09] Event focuses on Balkan crises
  • [10] Physicians' strike at public hospitals in Athens, Thessaloniki continues
  • [11] Spyridon invites Christodoulos to US
  • [12] EPP conference on Crete
  • [13] Farmers a gain warn of mobilisations
  • [14] Last of four bank robbers who fled into mountains arrested
  • [15] Fire at television station

  • [01] Simitis accuses opposition of impeding country's progress

    Athens 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis charged yesterday that the main opposition New Democracy party and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) were "harmoniously cooperating, with their only aim being that the government fails in its goals."

    Speaking in Kilkis on the second day of his tour of northern Greece, Mr. Simitis said his government's policies were moving the country forward, noting the improvement of the economic indicators and the positive results in the lives of citizens after the country's entry in the 'euro zone'.

    Based on that progress, he said the government was ready to forge ahead with tax cuts, such as increasing untaxed revenue limits, connecting those limits with the year-on-year inflation rates. He claimed that the government is being attacked by certain groups because it is successful in combatting tax evasion.

    The premier noted that if ND really cared for the well being of citizens it would have cooperated with the government on such issues that would have been to the citizens' benefit.

    He said that in elections in the year 2000 citizens will vote on the government's work and achievements and for that reason they will renew their trust in PASOK, while he added that opposition parties will get what he called "a first taste" of that with the June 13 Euroelections.

    Speaking on current issues such as education, health and farmers' demands, the premier defended his choices and the need for a modernisation of Greek society, noting that any one who refuses the need for reforms drags Greece backwards. He also stressed that the government would not accept that.

    Mr. Simitis said that for Greece to forge ahead there is a need for confrontation with vested interests which do not want the change.

    Speaking specifically on the subject of health care, he said that there are deficiencies but pointed to projects in progress, while he said the government increased doctors' salaries significantly.

    Referring to problems local merchants and vendors face from strict travel visa requirements for FYROM nationals, Mr. Simitis recognised that a problem existed, adding that the Greek side would desire a simpler and quicker procedure for crossing the Greek-FYROM borders. However, he said the issue was part of a more general policy, "as Greece has its own views that must be respected by the neighbouring state."

    The Greek PM also said that he believes Skopje will soon normalise bilateral relations, something that will lead to closer cooperation.

    During his Serres visit on Saturday, Mr. Simitis reiterated his certainty over a victory by ruling PASOK in the June Euroelections and national elections.

    Finally, he said Greece will enter European Monetary Union "on its own two feet."

    Speaking on foreign affairs, the premier said that Greece is exercising an active policy, noting the efforts of Greece in overcoming the Albanian crisis, as well as the hosting of a Balkan summit in Crete.

    Mr. Simitis also said that despite forecasts to the contrary, talks for the accession of Cyprus to the European Union took place and that is a result of Greece's "voice and presence."

    He left for Thessaloniki late last night.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Karamanlis predicts ND victory in next elections, lashes out at gov't farm policy

    Athens 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis concluded a two-day tour of Halkidiki prefecture yesterday by appealing to potential voters and by harshly criticising the PASOK government's policy.

    Addressing local officials, bussiness people and employees' groups, Mr. Karamanlis said a recent settlement by the government of farmers' debts was "just another pre-election gimmick", while he stressed that he was against road blocks by protesting farmers.

    He added that the country's farm sector was in poor shape due to the government's ineffective policy and stressed that agriculture will collapse unless measures are taken.

    Speaking to ND supporters in the Nikitas municipality, the main opposition leader expressed a certainty that ND will win the next elections.

    "Our aim is not to change 'green suits' with 'blue' ones, but to form a government that will lead the country to a national revival," Mr. Karamanlis said.

    He visited the municipalities of Kallikrateia, Trigleia, Nea Moudania, Kassandra, Marmaras, Polygyros, Ierissos, Arnaia and the archaeological site at Olynthos. In Kassandra he was declared an honorary citizen and was given the city's golden key by its mayor.

    The ND leader told local residents that Greece "did not need more promises, but work, projects, effectiveness and honesty," while referring to education and health he said the government's "poor choices had led the country to resemble an under-developed nation".

    In Ierissos, Mr. Karamanlis visited the TVX gold mines, where he declared his support for the mines' operation. He also told Halkidiki residents that one of his objectives was to cooperate with all mayors, regardless of their political backing.

    The ND leader returned to Athens late yesterday afternoon.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Bulgarian VP cites upcoming Simitis visit to Sofia

    SOFIA 15/02/1999 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will pay an official visit to Bulgaria in the spring, according to Bulgarian vice-president Yevgeni Bokardjiev.

    The Bulgarian VP, made the statement upon his return to Sofia yesterday from a visit to Athens, where he attended a meeting of a joint committee for commercial and economic cooperation.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] G. Papandreou on Kosovo negotiations

    PARIS 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday stressed here that there is room for negotiations between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians in order to avert military intervention in the troubled Yugoslav province.

    Speaking after a European Union foreign ministers' meeting in Paris, called by the current German presidency, Mr. Papandreou added that both sides will continue to be pressured toward a peace agreement, but noted that negotiations were at a difficult stage.

    Finally, Mr. Papandreou said if the two sides in Kosovo were to overcome differences and ''sit around the same table'' then the prospect of lifting the embargo should be examined.

    Following the meeting, the Greek ministers was due to leave for Vienna, where he is to accompany President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos during the latter's official visit to Austria due to begin today.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Press report states Ocalan ready to ask Greece, other European nations for asylum

    Athens 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    A report by the French news agency (AFP) yesterday stated that Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) representatives had conveyed a message to the Greek government, stressing that PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan wished to ask Greece for political asylum.

    Mr. Ocalan intends to ask Greece "to be clear and examine my demand for political asylum," AFP reported.

    Government sources in Athens said last night that no such request by the Kurdish leader had reached Athens. The same sources reiterated the Greek position that Mr. Ocalan's arrival in Greece would not be useful, neither for Greece or for the Kurds thems elves and their just cause.

    The PKK leader's arrival in Greece, let alone granting him political asylum, would be detrimental to the Kurdish issue as it would transform the issue into yet another Greek-Turkish difference, the same sources said.

    The Greek government is expected to stand by this position in case Abdullah Ocalan requests political asylum.

    According to information gathered by government services, Mr. Ocalan is likely to lodge his request with the public order ministry today, while the same demand will be put also to other European countries, the same sources added.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis last night was briefed on the situation by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos during a telephone discussion.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Greek participation in upcoming NATO exercise

    Athens 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    Greece will participate in the NATO naval exercise "Dog Fish '99", set for Feb. 18 to March 3 in the sea region between Ionian and Sicily.

    Greece will contribute a submarine, a naval support aircraft and a warship.

    Air force and naval units from France, Germany, the United States, Spain, Italy, Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Turkey and Greece will participate in this annual exercise, aimed at protecting surface vessels from submarine attacks in vital shipping lanes.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Karamanlis: Wrong policy on S-300s led to defeat

    NICOSIA 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis was quoted in the press here as saying that a "wrong policy followed on the S-300 missile issue had led to a defeat."

    According to an interview published in yesterday's issue of the Cypriot newspaper "Phileleftheros", Mr. Karamanlis said that as a "result of this wrong policy, the wrong messages were sent out and Turkey took advantage of this situation to drive the Greek side to a retreat."

    He also reiterated his position on the need to establish a national council for foreign policy, while noting that the joint defence doctrine between Athens and Nicosia should "focus on actions, not just words."

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Tsohatzopoulos on measures against drug use

    Athens 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed on Friday that solutions to social and economic problems faced by youth as well as teens' effective communication with their families and society were the shields against drug abuse.

    Addressing an event against drugs on Friday organised by the Thessaloniki Labour Centre, he added that success of such efforts emanated from the state, which as he said, should implement appropriate policies for social and economic development, employme nt, education and the "creative use" of youths' spare time.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also cited studies reporting that about 12 per cent of drug users tried illegal substances while serving in the military.

    He further outlined a strategy by the armed forces to combat illegal drug use.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Event focuses on Balkan crises

    Athens 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    Participants at an Athens meeting yesterday of institutes affiliated to Balkan social democratic parties arrived at a conclusion that most conflicts in the region were the result of a "democratic deficit", evident in Europe and the Balkans.

    The meeting, entitled: "Crises in the Balkans: Ways to deal with Them", was organised at the initiative of the Andreas Papandreou Institute for Strategic and Developmental Studies (ISTAME).

    "The Balkan peninsula operates at a varied pace of modernisation. If democratisation does not develop at the same time in all countries, then the danger for conflicts will loom," a confernece statement said.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Physicians' strike at public hospitals in Athens, Thessaloniki continues

    Athens 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    State hospitals in Athens and Thessaloniki will operate with only skeleton crews as of today, as physicians are continuing a strike.

    The announcement comes despite a government decision to satisfy one of state hospital doctors' basic demands, namely, an increase of shift-duty payments.

    The strike was sparked after the non-payment of several months' worth of doctors' shifts by the health ministry.

    Doctors in Athens have announced six-hour work stoppages until Wednesday while their colleagues in Thessaloniki will not work on shift-duty and at the hospitals' out-patient centres.

    Social Security Foundation (IKA) doctors have also announced a five-day strike starting today.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Spyridon invites Christodoulos to US

    Athens 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    Archbishop of America Spyridon yesterday invited Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos to visit the United States. During a dinner hosted by Christodoulos in honour of Spyridon, the Archbishop of America said: ''come witness our stru ggles, our bitterness, come and see that all is gained by great effort and that no one is giving us anything if we do not win it ourselves.''

    Earlier, during the morning service at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral, Spyridon, on an official visit to Greece, issued a call for unity towards "ecumenical Hellenism."

    Spyridon letter to Clinton : Archbishop of America Spyridon addressed a letter of congratulations on Friday to US President Bill Clinton, following the latter's acquittal by the US Senate on two impeachment charges.

    "...This evening I was informed of the news that the Senate trial is over and that your Presidency may continue on its progressive and constructive course. May I offer to you and your family my personal best wishes and blessings, so that you and your love dones may resume your family life with the dignity and privacy you deserve," Spyridon, currently on an official visit to Greece, states in his letter.

    "Although this has most certainly been a difficult and grueling ordeal, I believe that be seeking forgiveness and by offering to others, you shall bring to your family and the nation the healing we all deserve. I have no doubt that your outstretched hand of reconciliation will be blessed by God, " the Archbishop writes.

    US ambassador hosts reception for Spyridon : US ambassador in Athens Nicholas Burns hosted a reception in honour to Archbishop of America Spyridon at his official residence last night.

    Mr. Burns expressed his support and respect for the ArchbishopYs role in the Greek-American community and the Orthodox Church's unity, praising the significance of Spyridon's mission.

    He added that he was planning to work together with Spyridon to help further improve relations between the two countries and their people.

    On his part, the Archbishop said he was proud at Athens being chosen to host the 2004 Olympics, while he expressed a conviction that Greek-US relations will be further strengthened in the future.

    A number of government and opposition officials were also present.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] EPP conference on Crete

    Athens 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    A European Peoples' Party (EPP) congress has been scheduled for Feb. 27 in Irakleio, Crete.

    According to sources, participants will include EPP President Wilfreid Martens, a number of party leaders affiliated with EPP, Eurodeputies and other political figures. Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis will also take part.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Farmers a gain warn of mobilisations

    Athens 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    Protesting farmers in Thessaly, Serres and Kavala remained poised to mobilise in the next few days in order to press demands.

    In Thessaly, farmers' representatives warned of a tractor convey headed for Athens, while various meetings are planned for this week to work out their policy.

    A farmers' representative in northern Greece said he wasn't satisfied with the government's latest offers.

    Athens News Agency

    [14] Last of four bank robbers who fled into mountains arrested

    Athens 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    The fourth and last member of a gang of bank robbers was arrested on Saturday after 10 days on the run in snow-covered mountains of the northeastern Peloponnese.

    He was identified a Dionysios Douros, 32, from the village of Roviata, Amaliada region.

    The suspect was spotted in the morning walking along a road between the villages of Kastania and Karteri. According to reports, he was suffering from frostbite, exhaustion and also had a slight leg injury from a fall.

    The four-member gang held up a bank in the secluded village of Kleitoria, Achaia prefecture on Feb. 3 and escaped with some six million drachmas.

    The gang sought refuge in the rugged mountainous region of Corinth prefecture after failing to elude police. One of the suspects was killed during a shootout with police last Sunday, while a second was found dead the following day.

    The third suspect, Yiannis Karadimos, gave himself up on Friday.

    Athens News Agency

    [15] Fire at television station

    Athens 15/02/1999 (ANA)

    A fire was reported at around 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the studios of a small Athens television station near Omonia. The blaze resulted in the interruption of "New Channel's" programming. An electrical short was blaimed for the fire in the building first floor. No injuries were reported.

    Athens News Agency

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