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Antenna: News in English (AM), 97-05-29

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From: Antenna Radio <> - email:

News in English, 29/05/97


  • The prime minister reassures his MPs over his handling of Turkey.
  • Greek trawlers face the Turkish threat in the Aegean.
  • And, a rare exhibit of orthodox treasures.


The prime minister is trying to allay the concerns of some Pasok MPs, that his Turkish policy will lead Greece into making concessions where its sovereign rights are concerned.

Kostas Simitis met with some 27 MPs, members of parliament's foreign relations committee, a day after his talk with Turkish president Suleiman Demirel in Paris.

15 of the MPs Kostas Simitis met with were among those who sent him a letter several weeks ago, expressing reservations over his decision to set up a committee to list Greek-Turkish relations.

Simitis told his MPs that he will do whatever he can to reduce tension over the Aegean, reassuring them at the same time that he will NEVER negotiate Greece's territorial rights with Turkey. Nor will he allow Turkey to change international treaties granting Greece those rights.

A number of MPs called the briefing constructive and positive.

But Stelios Papathemelis and Levteris Veryvakis said afterwards that they're still opposed to the Greek-Turkish committee.

Turkish president Suleiman Demirel has mentioned the possiblity of the two countries signing a no- attack agreement. But he also insists on claiming Greek islands for Turkey.

Simitis says a no-attack agreement is possible, but refuses to say what he intends to do in advance.

During their Paris meeting, Simitis told Demirel his statements to the effect that his country has a right to some Greek islands, don't help bilateral relations. He once again called on Turkey to foreswear the use of violence in trying to get its own way, and to start respecting Greece's rights.

Pasok's Karolos Papoulias, a former foreign minister, says Simitis was right to tell Demirel that Greece will examine the conditions on which a rapprochement between the two nations can be made. Papoulias adds that in his experience, Turkey always plays the same game, and he doesn't think any progress is being made now.


Fishermen in northeastern Greece live with the Turkish threat in Greek waters.

The fishermen based in Alexandroupoli are in the front line every day, as they ply their trade in the Aegean.

Antenna's Nikos Manessis spent a day on a Greek trawler.

In a sense, they guard the Aegean. Greek fishermen not only have to deal with rough weather; they are always on their guard against provocative behaviour from Turkey.

Nikos Manesis spent a day on the "Captain Fotis", one of 26 trawlers that work the northeastern Aegean.

It's three o'clock in the morning. The sea is calm and the boat sails for the region Turkey calls a "grey zone" - an area of disputed sovereignty. By dawn, the boat has reached the Greek island of Samothrace.

The fears of the seamen are understandable: these seas are frequently violated by the Turkish navy. And in 1979, a small fishing boat was sunk by a Turkish patrol boat, costing one 28-year-old Greek his life.

Every seaman has a memory. Panagiotis Karavetis recalls the time when a Turkish patrol boat sailed right up to the boat he was on, forcing the fishermen to draw in their nets and go home.

Trawler captain Fotis Karavetis says "We're in danger here, but we're fond of our homeland, and don't want to leave our waters".

Antenna's voyage continues. In Greek waters six miles east of Samothrace, there's another so-called "grey zone". Turkey claims the Greek rocks of LadoxEra, as it does dozens of others.

Despite Turkish threats, the fishermen say they're resolved to come here every day and light the beacon on one of the rocks.

Karavetis once found a gun shell most likely fired by a Turkish vessel on exercise.

As darkness falls, the trawler sails back to Alexandroupoli. Another day is over; the fisherman look ahead with some trepidation to tomorrow.


The prime minister is calling on Greek businessmen to invest in the economy's future. Addressing the Confederation of Greek Industry, Kostas Simitis said now is the time to meet the challenges before the country.

Simitis said the government will implement policies to get the state's fiscal matters in order and promote economic growth. The government and the nation need businessmen to do their part too, he added, urging businesses to invest. "Exploit the opporunities that exist", said simitis. "Time isn't standing still. This is the time for us to act effectively to improve productivity and the competitiveness of our economy, so we can meet the challenges of a new era".


The government's economic policies have a lot of people unhappy. On the one hand, the trade unions are upset over belt-tightening; and, New Democracy members also have complaints with the way Pasok is managing things.

The government's economic committee discussed its salary and pension ideas with civil servants' union reps, who want living standards protected from the knife.

Pasok justifies its cutbacks, saying it's helping turn the economy around. It also says it is defending living standards.

But New Democracy MP Manolis Kefaloyiannis says the government falsifies data, where both workers and pensioners are concerned. Pasok statistics show that both groups will be getting real increases in their income, while in fact, there will be a reduction. It's the same thing with inflation reporting, says Kefaloyiannis. The government boasts of a drop there, but doesn't point out that it's changed the way inflation is calculated.

Pasok MP Giorgos Adamopoulos admits that low pensions are a problem, but also thinks the government is doing all it can for retirees. He says that the main thing is that dialogue between the government and various social groups is productive.

New Democracy's Constantinos Mitsotakis, a former prime minister, believes Pasok is endangering Greece's future place in the EU, because it's creating an atmosphere of exaggerated optimism over the economy.


Greece may soon see its first non-profit privately- endowed, university.

The change to the Greek constitution that would allow the private universities to operate has long been debated by politicians.

Pasok's Executive Bureau is examining the possibility of changing the constitutional clause which prohibits the operation of private universities.

New Democracy leader Kostas Simitis is in favor of such achange.

Greece's constitution could be revised by parliament next year.


"Treasures from Mount Athos" is the title of an exhibit of rare relics from the monastery-studded Athos region.

1500 priceless religious items, and items of everyday use will be on display for the first time ever at the Byzantine Museum in Thessaloniki.

The six-month exhibition is part of the events organised during Thessaloniki's stint as European cultural capital.

Among the religious items in the exhibit are textiles - like clerical garments - which have already been taken from the Mount Athos monasteries to the museum for restoration work in the run-up to the exhibition opening on June 21s.

The rest of the exhibits will be taken to Thessaloniki under tight security, and they will be closely guarded throughout the exhibition. The culture ministry puts their total value at 80 million dollars.

This exhibit may have special appeal to women. Prohibited from entering Athos, this will be their first chance to see the items on display.

But even for men, it is a special opporunity, as many of the artefacts have been locked away in trunks for decades.

Dimitris Salpistis, vice-president of the "Thessaloniki, European Cultural Capital" committee says one of the monastery storerooms has been locked up for 90 years.


In medical news, doctors say they've found a way to treat diseases affecting the immune system, by using cells taken from infants.

The method was discussed by the Greek Immunology Society at a press conference, in view of the upcoming immunogenetics congress.

Noting that 75 percent of today's diseases arise from immune system problems, doctors say that with this new method, they will be able to treat various forms of cancer, such as leukemia, and the Aids virus.

Zafiris Polymenidis, president of the society, explains, "We not only use the normal cells, but 'train' them: inserting the disease-causing antigen into the cells, we then multiply the cells against the antigen. When the time is right, we place the cells back in the body, where they work to destroy the tumour or virus".


In sports, Greece is 2 and 0 in the 8-team world water polo championship tournament in Athens.

Greece, which finished sixth in the last Olympics, opened against Italy, which placed third in Atlanta.

Using stifling defence, Greece wins it 6-4. 22- year-old Giorgos Thomakos scores the winning goal with 4'32" left in the contest.

That game was on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Greece took on Spain in its four- team group, Spain, which had dropped ITS opener against the USA, 10-6. And Greece sends the Atlanta gold medalists down to their second defeat. 7-6 the final score in that one.


The attention of shipowners around the world is on the annual Union of Independent Tanker Owners' conference in Athens.

100s of Greek and foreign shipowners are attending the Intertanko conference.

Merchant marine minister Stavros Soumakis says the fact that the conference is being held in Athens for the second straight year indicates the respect that exists for the Greek merchant navy. It's a great honour for Greece, he adds.

Antenna president Minos Kyriakou is among the well-known shipowners attending the affair.

At the reception held after a day of discussion, Citibank's director in Greece, Dimitris Krontiras, was asked what a banker was doing among shipowners.

He explained the relationship between banking and shipping is profitable for both sides. He added that his bank has contributed greatly to the development of world shipping.

The INTERTANKO conference ends Thursday.

© ANT1 Radio 1997

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