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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-12-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Athens conference on 'geopolitical role of Greece' ends with presentation of Rand Corporation's conclusions
  • [02] Yugoslav President arrives at Mount Athos on two-day pilgrimage
  • [03] Bulgarian president tells ANA that his visit to Greece is important and comes at a significant time
  • [04] Political Spring members agree to join PASOK ranks at Athens meeting
  • [05] Rift between Albanians and Serbs unbridgeable in Kosovo
  • [06] Economy Minister says he has completed 'cycle of work' in economy sector
  • [07] Survey commissioned by 'Imerisia' newspaper reveals that majority disagree with labor relations bill
  • [08] PM says phenomena leading to exclusion of people with special needs appearing
  • [09] Culture minister inaugurates exhibition of private collection donated by Mitsotakis family in Hania Archaeological museum
  • [10] Merchant marine ministry denies rumors that missing seaman's body has been found in Italy
  • [11] Two-day Athens conference on integrating refugees in European society ends
  • [12] UN chief's Cyprus adviser arrives for talks

  • [01] Athens conference on 'geopolitical role of Greece' ends with presentation of Rand Corporation's conclusions

    Athens, 04/12/2000 (มอม)

    A two-day conference organized jointly by the US-based Rand Corporation and the Kokkalis Foundation in Athens, ended on Saturday with speeches by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos and US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns and presentations by Rand Corporation analysts. The conference was entitled "The new geopolitical role of Greece" and is the culmination of several months of research by the US think-tank focusing on the role of Greece in the surrounding regions.

    In presenting their findings, the US researchers attributed the increased importance of Greece's role in southeast Europe to its joining EMU, its active support of creating a strong European defense, its improved relations with NATO and its foreign policy in the Balkans, particularly regarding Turkey.

    They also noted that all the areas that are strategically important to both the US and Europe are very close to Greece, expanding the Greek strategic area to take in not just Europe but all of Eurasia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean as well. This shift in Euro-Atlantic strategic interests means that Greece is called to play a stabilizing role in the Balkans and southeast Mediterranean, especially after the recent negative developments in the Middle East peace process.

    Given these facts, the analysts added, it is particularly important for relations between Greece and Turkey to be fully normalized in order to avoid any possibility of conflict between the two countries - something which they said would have disastrous consequences for stability in the area.

    The prospects of an autonomous European defense and the upgrading of relations between the EU and Turkey, they ventured, would make this possibility less likely.

    The Rand analysts also propose a more active role for Greece to the north, suggesting initiatives for the stabilization of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania. They particularly stressed the need to integrate the Albanian minority in FYROM and create safe conditions for Albanians living there.

    With regard to Kosovo, they said that Greece should cooperate with its western partners in working out a final regime. Autonomy, according to the Rand analysts, is not a viable option for the area in the long-term, since the majority of the Albanians living there disagree with it. For this reason, a way must be sought for a smooth transition to self-determination for Kosovo, with strict criteria for respect of the territorial integrity of neighboring countries, particularly FYROM.

    The analysts end by saying that the Balkans will continue to be a key area of European activity for a long time, and therefore Greece has very important advantages that allow it to play a role in political and economic developments in the region.

    US ambassador and Athens mayor: Both Greece and Turkey are equally important to the US and NATO, US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns said in his speech.

    Washington, Burns added, does not choose between the two countries or pressure one country against the other but tries to take a balanced approach to trilateral US-Greece-Turkey relations. The issue, he said, is not what the US does, but what Greece and Turkey do.

    Regarding relations between US and Greece, meanwhile, Burns described these as "healthy" and said they could become "excellent" if the disagreements of the past could be overcome. He pinpointed terrorism, narcotics, the environment and nuclear proliferation as the four factors that would determine Greek-American relations in the coming years, while he asked for greater cooperation in combatting terrorism.

    He also commented on the Cyprus issue, saying that a compromise between the Greek and Turkish populations on the island would be the basis of a future solution to the problem.

    Asked why the US did not intervene on Cyprus as it had in Kosovo, Burns answered that in Kosovo there had been flagrant violations of human rights.

    With respect to defense cooperation, the ambassador urged Greece to take note of a new American tank being promoted by the US, and expressed the hope that it would not confine its Air Force's needs to the Eurofighter jet.

    Also speaking at the conference was Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, who urged the US to maintain equal relations with its partners, to pressure the system governing Turkey for a solution to the Cyprus problem, while stressing that the US had an obligation to contribute to the establishment of democracy.

    Commenting on Greek-Turkish rapprochement, meanwhile, the Athens mayor called for careful handling of the issues, to avoid giving grounds for accusations of naive policy among those who opposed this development. He also called on the Greek state to make use of Greek-Americans living in the US.

    With regard to terrorism, Avramopoulos dismissed concerns voiced by US mass media over the safety and security of the 2004 Olympics in Athens as unfair. He said that these concerns served ulterior ends and disrupted Greek-US relations, while he supported international cooperation to combat the phenomenon.

    [02] Yugoslav President arrives at Mount Athos on two-day pilgrimage

    Athens, 04/12/2000 (มอม)

    Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica arrived at the semi-autonomous monastic community of Mount Athos, northern Greece, on Sunday on a two-day pilgrimage and said, referring to Greek-Serb relations, "the two peoples will remain united until Doomsday."

    Yugoslav Prime Minister Zoran Zijic and a delegation of ministers accompany Kostunica on his visit.

    In a brief statement, he said he is pleased to be visiting Mount Athos, terming it the "cradle of the Orthodox faith", while monks welcomed him with the honors of a head of state.

    Kostunica and the members of his entourage were due to attend a vigil at the monastery of Hilandariou in the evening, where about 25 monks of Serb origin live. On Monday, he will meet Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis in Thessaloniki, despite the fact he has termed his visit "strictly personal."

    Replying to an address from a monk, who said "the steamroller of globalization is sweeping away all traditions and ideals", Kostunica agreed and said this steamroller acted in a violent way in Kosovo.

    Kostunica, who is distinguished for strong adherence to the Orthodox Christian faith, had expressed his desire to visit Mount Athos and the monastery of Hilandariou before the Yugoslav elections. In fact, according to certain circles, he had vowed to make such a pilgrimage in the event he won the presidential elections in his country.

    He may also be visiting other monasteries on Mount Athos as well and, returning from Thessaloniki on Monday, he might visit the women's monastery in the town of Ormylio in the Halkidiki prefecture.

    Provided the initial program is observed in Thessaloniki, he will visit the Aghios Dimitrios Cathedral and lay a wreath at the allied military cemetery of Zejdelik.

    Kostunica's scheduled official visit to Athens in December is still pending, while the exact date of his visit has not yet been set.

    [03] Bulgarian president tells ANA that his visit to Greece is important and comes at a significant time

    SOFIA, 04/12/2000 (ANA - M. Borisov)

    In an exclusive statement to the ANA on Sunday, Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov said that he attached great importance to his upcoming visit to Greece since it would give the two sides the opportunity to discuss the dramatic political changes in Yugoslavia.

    He let it be understood that this issue would dominate his talks in Athens with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    Stoyanov is due to arrive in Athens on Monday for a two-day official visit that ends on Tuesday.

    "I attach great importance to my visit to Greece, and not only because it is a friendly and neighboring country. This is my first official visit to a country in our region following the changes in Belgrade. This new situation not only encourages but demands contacts and dialogue between the stable democracies of southeastern Europe for the future of the region in general," he said.

    He added that there was much to discuss during his meetings in Greece, saying that this was "an significant time for both developments in the Balkans and for the future of the European Union (EU) and NATO.

    He concluded by saying that frequent contact and constant, meaningful political dialogue between Bulgaria and Greece helped considerably.

    Health minister defends party's record on social policy to PASOK organizational division conference Athens, 04/12/2000 (มอม)

    Health Minister Alekos Papadopoulos told the 4th conference of PASOK's Organizational Division on Saturday that the party did have a social character, which it expressed without overcharging the country.

    Speaking on the second day of the Athens conference, Papadopoulos said that the party could not just ignore realities that were established worldwide and opt for isolationism, while he claimed that PASOK social policies created conditions for all who felt socially excluded to find refuge in a society with equality before the law and state.

    [04] Political Spring members agree to join PASOK ranks at Athens meeting

    Athens, 04/12/2000 (มอม)

    Members of the center-right Political Spring party met at the Holiday Inn in Athens on Sunday and pledged to cast their lot with ruling PASOK in the next elections.

    The gathering dubbed "First meeting of Political Spring members and Former MPs" heard ruling PASOK General Secretary Costas Skandalidis outline how former Pol.An members could become the new "political grafts" that would invigorate PASOK.

    Skandalidis said that he would soon publish a list of 200 well-known former members of Political Spring who now supported PASOK, 60 of whom would stand for Parliament in the next elections.

    "We welcome you in PASOK, we count on you and with your participation we will fight for Spring in Greece," Skandalidis said.

    Taking the stand, former Political Spring party members confirmed a common course with PASOK based on their principles and beliefs, "which concentrate in the center of the political spectrum" and expressed their joint will to create a "progressive, social coalition," and support the government of premier Costas Simitis.

    Antonis Samaras, a former minister of the 1990-1993 New Democracy government, who was sacked by then Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis over his handling of the Macedonian issue, founded Political Spring in 1993. Several ND members followed Samaras when he left ND to form his own party, while the departure of ND deputies annihilated Mitsotakis' slim majority in Parliament and forced him to call early elections, which he lost.

    Creation of political party by Athens Mayor Avramopoulos will have positive effect, opinion poll says Athens, 04/12/2000 (มอม)

    The creation of a political party by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos will have a positive effect on the present political scene, according to 52.4 percent of respondents in a telephone opinion poll conducted by the ALKO company.

    The poll was conducted among 600 people in Athens and Thessaloniki over the November 29-30 period and was published in the newspaper "Sunday Eleftheros Typos".

    Replying to the question whether the creation of a new party by Avramopoulos will have a positive or negative effect on the present political scene, 52.4 percent of respondents said it will have a positive effect and 31.7 percent a negative one, while 15.9 percent gave no opinion.

    On the question of whether or not Avramopoulos should go ahead and create a party, 45.8 percent said he should, 38.3 he should not and 15.9 percent gave no opinion.

    According to the poll, opinions favoring the creation of such a party are due 54.7 percent to voters of the ruling PASOK party and by 30.2 percent to voters of the main opposition New Democracy party. The newspaper said the former figure "should also include a percentage replying positively with the 'second' thought that such a development will harm ND."

    [05] Rift between Albanians and Serbs unbridgeable in Kosovo

    Athens, 04/12/2000 (มอม)

    A conference on Albanians in the Balkans came to an end in Athens on Saturday night with Albanians and Serbs failing to agree on the future of Kosovo, while indicative of the negative mood prevailing was the exclusion of the media from the conference and a hasty conclusion to a press conference on grounds that a repetition of its discussion in the presence of journalists was pointless.

    The conference was organized by Princeton University was attended by leaders of the Albanian Kosovars, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Montenegro, the political leadership of Tirana and representatives of the democratic wing of Yugoslavia's leadership, as well as diplomats and dignitaries from many countries.

    The publisher of Kosovo's "Koha Ditore" newspaper Veto Suroy said the majority of the Serbs was responsible for the "genocide" of the Kosovar Albanians and reminded that the Serbs lost the war.

    Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic accepted a return to the status anticipated for Kosovo by the Yugoslav constitution of 1974, but added that the principle of the inviolability of borders overrides the principle of self-determination for nations.

    Almost all Greek diplomats and officials responsible for Balkan affairs attended the conference, while Foreign Minister George Papandreou gave a reception for the delegates.

    [06] Economy Minister says he has completed 'cycle of work' in economy sector

    Athens, 04/12/2000 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said in an interview with the Sunday newspaper "Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia" he has completed a cycle of work in the economy and that he has many other interests outside this sector.

    He was responding to speculation that he is considering resigning from his post.

    Commenting on the possibility of Prime Minister Costas Simitis calling on him to quit the ministry, Papantoniou said "if the prime minister asks me to do this I will accept."

    "I am a soldier of PASOK. The prime minister is well aware that I will do whatever he asks of me. And I would not like to hide from you that I have many other interests outside the sector of the economy," he said.

    Papantoniou further said "I have completed a cycle of work in the national economy. I restructured public finances, I put Greece in an orbit of development and of surplus budgets, I signed the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF), the tax system was reformed and we joined Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Therefore, I have clearly completed a task. However, if I stay on I still have important things to do. To continue structural changes and continue to reduce taxes. But in any case, a cycle has closed."

    Called on to explain the great decline in the Athens Stock Exchange, he said the economy's trend is positive and this will also be confirmed at the Stock Exchange sooner or later.

    However, Papantoniou said that after Greece joined EMU "an effort is being made, exclusively from local centers, to discredit economic policy, which has a negative influence on the economic atmosphere and the Stock Exchange as well".

    "Outside the country they are congratulating me and inside they are slandering me," he said.

    Skandalidis comments: Ruling PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said on Sunday that the interview given by National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou to a Greek Sunday paper touched on matters that "are the sole reserve of the prime minister (Costas Simitis), his own planning and his own course, and should be respected."

    As he emerged from a meeting of Political Spring party members in Athens, Skandalidis referred to Papantoniou as "a top-ranking member of the movement" and a "foremost achiever of important goals for the country," and said that he would always be on the PASOK front line because the party could not spare such important cadres.

    Asked if his own "cycle" was coming to a close, Skandalidis said that the party secretary leaves only after an entire historical period ends and that this was decided by the party conference.

    [07] Survey commissioned by 'Imerisia' newspaper reveals that majority disagree with labor relations bill

    Athens, 04/12/2000 (ANA)

    Seventy-three per cent of Greeks believe that the government's labor relations bill should be revised before it comes to a vote, according to a survey carried out by firm V-PRC and printed by the newspaper "Imerisia" on Saturday.

    The survey was carried out on a sample of 700 people in Attica, Thessaloniki, Patra, Iraklio and Larissa.

    The same article claims that seven out of 10 Greeks do not want early elections, while 19.1 per cent believe the government should resign and call new elections over the labor bill.

    Among respondents, however, 85.1 per cent of PASOK voters did not want early elections, compared to 61 per cent of ND voters.

    On the question of how individual MPs should vote, the majority favored vote by conscience, while only 8.4 per cent believed that the government should order its deputies to toe the party line.

    Respondents were also asked their views about the removal of former Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos from the government.

    Only 31.7 per cent agreed with the prime minister's line, in other words that ministers who disagree with the government on certain issues should resign, while 61 per cent said ministers should stay and try to convince others of his views and 7,3 per cent answered "don't know".

    For Pangalos in particular, 33.8 per cent agreed with Prime Minister Costas Simitis' decision to sack him, 30.7 per cent said they did not agree and 35.5 per cent answered "don't know" or refused to answer. Among PASOK voters, the equivalent percentages were 43.9 per cent, 32.8 per cent and 23.3 per cent.

    [08] PM says phenomena leading to exclusion of people with special needs appearing

    Athens, 04/12/2000 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis addressed a message on Sunday, on the occasion of National Day for People with Special Needs, saying "we should contribute to a society of equal opportunities and possibilities and avert phenomena of exclusion and discriminations."

    Simitis further warned in his message that "despite considerable steps taken in the direction of equal participation for people with special needs in every manifestation of social and economic life, with the rapid development of technology which provides them with similar possibilities through continuously changing social and economic conditions, phenomena and situations are appearing which lead to exclusion."

    In a similar message, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis said "the problem of people with special needs has been raised in our country in past years. It is a foregone conclusion that the participation of this big percentage of the country's population in productive and social life should be realized" and referred to Eurostat data according to which citizens faced with cases of invalidism in the country account for 9.3 percent of the total population.

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said "a real modern state is acknowledged, regarding its social mission, when it shows its sensitivity and solidarity on a daily basis and in practice. When it takes care of and protects the weaker groups of its citizens. Today's People with Special Needs Day gives all of us the opportunity to consider our responsibilities and make our self-criticism."

    A relevant announcement by the Coalition of the Left and Progress said "for the Coalition, the abolition of every form of discriminations and inequalities between citizens constitutes a fundamental principle of its policy. Particularly in the sensitive sector of people with special needs where, in society and primarily the state, ignorance, prejudices and very often hypocritical and insensitive handling prevail, resulting in the walls of social exclusion being raised even higher."

    [09] Culture minister inaugurates exhibition of private collection donated by Mitsotakis family in Hania Archaeological museum

    Athens, 04/12/2000 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos inaugurated an exhibition from the private collection donated to the Greek State by former premier Constantine Mitsotakis and his wife Marika, on Saturday at the Hania Archaeological Museum on Crete.

    The exhibits, which account for one third of the entire collection, are rich and varied and fill three small rooms in the north of the Hania museum, next to the Church of St. Francis. Most of them have originated on Crete and are presented in chronological order, spanning a period from the fourth millennium BC until the 3rd century AD.

    Present at the inauguration ceremony were Mitsotakis himself, PASOK deputy and former culture minister Theodoros Pangalos, Mitsotakis' daughter Dora Bakoyianni, a deputy for main opposition New Democracy who had also served as culture minister in the past, regional general secretary Athanasios Karountzos and local officials.

    [10] Merchant marine ministry denies rumors that missing seaman's body has been found in Italy

    Athens, 04/12/2000 (ANA)

    The Merchant Marine ministry announced on Sunday that it had contacted Italian authorities investigating the case of missing seaman George Kambouris and been told that no body identified as his had been found in the Genoa area.

    The announcement was made in response to press reports that a charred body belonging to Kambouris had been found in the city.

    Kambouris was reported missing on November 11 and disappeared on board the newly commissioned Minoan Lines ferry "Knossos Palace" while it was carrying out its test voyage in Italian waters and under an Italian flag. The Greek members of the crew were being trained to pilot the ship, which had just been finished by an Italian shipyard.

    Meanwhile, Minoan Lines issued another press release on Sunday in which it reiterated that it was making all efforts to keep the family of the missing man informed about further developments.

    [11] Two-day Athens conference on integrating refugees in European society ends

    Athens, 04/12/2000 (ANA)

    The 4th European Conference for Refugees ended in Athens on Saturday. The two-day conference focused on ways in which European member-states could integrate refugees in society and was organized by the New Generation General Secretariat, the Greek Citizen's Advice Bureau and the Greek Council for Refugees.

    [12] UN chief's Cyprus adviser arrives for talks

    LARNACA, 04/12/2000 (CNA/ANA)

    The UN Secretary General's Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto on Sunday said there is plenty of time for the two side's to reply to Kofi Annan's invitation to resume proximity talks in Geneva late January, adding this issue will not be high on the agenda of his visit here.

    Speaking to Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists on his arrival at Larnaca Airport, the Peruvian diplomat carrying out the Cyprus peace talks called on the two parties involved to concentrate on the concrete ideas put to them on the core issues of the problem.

    De Soto came here after visits to Athens and Ankara to discuss the Cyprus question and is scheduled to have separate meetings with both President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on Monday.

    The UN chief's adviser refrained from commenting on statements made by Denktash on the proximity talks, saying he has been reading press reports on them and looks forward to speaking to both the Turkish Cypriot leader and President Clerides.

    After a meeting in Ankara last week, Denktash described the five rounds of UN-led proximity talks held since last December as "a waste of time" and reiterated his unacceptable conditions in order for the meetings to continue, including the recognition of the illegal regime in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974.

    De Soto recalled that the Secretary General had personally issued an invitation to the two sides to participate in talks in late January when he met them in Geneva last month and reiterated his invitation stands a few days ago in New York.

    "However, between now and late January there is plenty of time so pressing for a reply to the SG's invitation whilst minds are concentrated on matters of considerable concern in the next few days is not high on the agenda of my visit," he said, adding that "there is no hurry for them to reply just now."

    Replying to questions on observations made by Kofi Anan on November 8, which angered the Turkish Cypriot leader, de Soto recalled that the SG "expressed to both Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash his views on a number of points, including how in his vision the main points of a comprehensive settlement should be put together in the search for a viable and fair compromise."

    "His vision as he put it to the two sides is not something that he was asking them to accept, not asking them to say yes or no, because it was not in the nature of a proposal," he explained.

    "What we would hope and would truly be useful," the Peruvian diplomat said, "is for the two sides to concentrate on the concrete and rather specific ideas that we have been putting to them on all of the core issues that are before us."

    During the proximity talks the UN have given the two sides unofficial papers referring to the issues under discussion. The UN has set out the four core issue under discussion as security, the distribution of powers, property and territory.

    Asked if he expects answers on the unofficial papers, de Soto said "I come prepared to discuss with them all of the issue, but my visit here now has the purpose of a periodic call on the island to the two leaders in order to ascertain how they are seeing matters and I would look forward to comments on substance."

    However, he said he realizes that "the timing, because of these matters being discussed elsewhere, may not be ideal."

    The UN Secretary General's report on Cyprus is expected to be issued in New York on Monday, while the issue of the European Union's accession partnership with Turkey will also be discussed Monday.

    Replying to other questions, de Soto said the Cyprus peace effort must not stretch too far recalling however that from the beginning the UN have been stressing that "we don't expect a quick resolution to the Cyprus is not going to be a matter of just a few months."

    He explained this is because the UN is searching for a comprehensive settlement, that will address all elements that have to be negotiated and leaving nothing behind.

    "It's not indefinite but certainly the parties should have the patience and the staying power and not fall into the error of thinking that this is going to be a settlement by points," de Soto added.

    The Peruvian diplomat said that neither he nor the Secretary General had any illusion as to the difficulty of the challenge of finding a settlement in Cyprus, underlining "it is feasible, it can be done, even though it will take a lot of goodwill and patience on the part of the two sides."

    During his four-day stay de Soto is also expected to meet the ambassadors of the five UN Security Council permanent members and will also hold a press conference for both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists.

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