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Antenna: News in English (AM), 97-06-04

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From: Antenna Radio <> - email:

News in English, 04/06/97


  • The Greek foreign minister's visit to Albania.
  • The government's secretary for the diaspora talks about relations between Greece and Greek communities abroad.
  • And, a festival in Olympia.


Greek foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos was in Albania Tuesday, trying to see how Greece can contribute to calm in the politically-volatile nation preparing for elections.

Pangalos met with the nation's political leaders, including the president, prime minister, socialist party leader, and members of the ethnic- Greek organisation Omonia.

He discussed the unrest that threatens to jeopardise elections scheduled for the end of the month.

Albanian president Sali Berisha and prime minister Baskim Fino talked to Pangalos about the latest bombings in central Tirane.

On Monday, explosions in a cafe and a bus station wounded 30 people.

Pangalos said after their meeting that two things should be done to make sure the June 29th elections come off without a hitch: there should be a strong military presence on election day, to ensure no one tries to rig the elections by force; and the state of emergency should be lifted on the balloting day, again to prevent election rigging.

The Greek foreign minister also visited with Greek peacekeepers stationed at Isberis, just outside the capital. They're part of an international force charged with creating conditions of stability in Albania.


Orthodox archibishop of Albania Anastasios says the Greek prime minister is a true friend of the Albanian people.

Anastasios met with Kostas Simitis in Athens.

The archbishop said that during this critical time for their country, the Albanian people need help from their friends, the kind of help which will preserve the Albanians sense of self-respect and dignity.


Before going to Albania, Theodoros Pangalos was at a meeting of the EU's general affairs council in Luxembourg. Pangalos commented on the fact that the Turkish prime minister is handing the reigns of power over to current foreign minister Tansu Ciller on June 16th.

Pangalos said Cillers return as prime minister won't solve any of Turkey's problems. Turkey's problem lies in its lack of democratic institutions. Greece, he added, already has experience of Ciller at the head of the government.


Former prime minister Constantinos Mitsotakis says Greece's goal is to solve its problems with Turkey through dialogue, but it must be a principled dialogue. Turkey has often called for dialogue, but with no conditions, meaning it would be free to make its claims on Greek rights discussion topics. Greece rejects that.

Mitsotakis spoke as he visited ecumenical orthodox patriarch Vartholomeos in Constantinople.

The former prime minister said Greece and Turkey must live with their problems, and avoid war at all costs.

Mitsotakis is in Constantinople to receive the Ipektsi Prize on Tuesday.

Vartholomeos congratulated him on winning the award. The archbishop added that Greek-Turkish relations must change, and that recent steps have been positive. The church, he said, is contributing in anyway it can to better relations.

Talking to Turkish reporters, Mitsotakis said that a start's been made in bettering those relations, but that much remains to be done.


One of the tasks of the Greek foreign ministry is to do to support Greeks abroad, to help them sustain their Greek identity, but also prosper in their own right in the countries where they live.

Antenna's Nancy Biska talked to general secretary for the diaspora Stavros Lambrinides, who explained how his office sees the relationship between Greece, and Greek communities around the world.

"I would say there are perhaps two visions.... working throughout the world to light it and each other".


On tomorrow's newscast, Stavros Lambrinides will tell us how that view of the relationship between Greece and Greeks abroad works itself out in practice.

The prime minister and the defence minister deliberated on military spending Tuesday. Greece is embarking on an ambitious 5-year defence programme that will include procurements, but also improvements to existing equipment.

Kostas Simitis and Akis Tsochatzopoulos discussed the improvements part, the offers made by foreign firms to undertake the job of modernising Greece's F-4 phantom fighter aircraft.

The government is expected to reach a decision next week on which of the bidding companies will get the contract.


The government is preparing to cut lump sum payments awarded to retiring civil servants, and to limit the size of some supplementary pensions.

Trade union leaders admit the insurance funds are in trouble, and agree that something must be done to prevent them from drying up.

But many people at retirement age are angry over what they believe will significant losses in income.

And the main opposition party doesn't like the way the government is going about making the changes.

The bill just submitted to parliament will cut the size of the one-off sum civil servants get upon retirement.

Currently, that sum is calculated according to the employee's final year salary. But the government wants to calulate on the last five years of service. It says many people receive big promotions just before they retire, distorting the size of the outgoing lump sum they get.

Civil Servants' union secretary Ilias Vrettakos says the change to the way the lump sum is calculated suggested by Pasok's legislation, essentially freezes the one-off payment, and opens the door to it falling in the future. He adds that losses to a retiree could be anywhere from 1800 to 8 thousand dollars.

Finance minister Yiannos Papantoniou says the changes are necessary to prevent pension and insurance funds from collapsing.

And Union leaders acknowledge that the insurance funds are in dire straits, and that something must be done.

But those ready to be pensioned off, don't like the fact that they'll be getting less.

The government also wants to rein in supplementary pensions given to private sector workers; the government's bill calls for restricting their size in many cases to no more than 20 per cent of the main pension the retiree gets.

Pensioners' president Christos Triantis says "the government is trying to take whatever we have left".

New Democracy spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos says the government's plan show Pasok's real face. The government has said that it will implement economic policies only after discussing its plans with the people affected by them. But it's cutting the lump sum without any previous discussion with the union, he adds, showing what it means by social dialogue.


The eighth congress of the Association of Chief Executive Officers was held in Athens to discuss modern marketing strategies.

Talks centered on the current global economy and market outlook, with special attention being paid to the needs of the Greek business environment. The conference was sponsored in part by Antenna.

Interior minister Alekos Papadopoulos spoke about the present effort to computerize public services. He also said the state wants to decentralise public services, even at the local level.

But most speakers focussed on private initiative.

Deputy Labour minister Christos Protopapas said that large-scale business developments in Greece are long overdue.

Deputy economy minister Nikos Christodoulakis told delegates from the business world that the economic future of Greece depends not only on the government's economic policy, but also on their business decisions.

Antenna financial consultant Giorgos Kouris said that in an era when producers are turned toward the goal of a united Europe, the private sector has an important role to play. That's why Antenna sponsors such events, to help in any way it can.


Put youthful imagination and creativity together with adult support, and you can get spectacular results.

School kids in the Athens suburb of Nikea got financial backing from the government in creating a model society.

The first "solar school" was created not only by student ingenuity and state money, but also with the technical back-up of Greenpeace.

Environment minister Kostas Laliotis says the aim is to set up some fifty ecological schools over the next two years, schools that use solar and wind power.

The schoolkids in Nikea consulted scientists in bringing their project to fruition, and conducted studies and created a model for the first-ever solar-powered school in Greece.

The young people are satisfied with the outcome of their efforts.

One boy says it was an uphill climb becoming the first ecological school, but it's been worth it.

He adds that the equipment his school is using could supply the whole area with cheaper power. If other schools in Greece followed the Nikea example, he enthuses, the entire country would reap the benefits.


In sports, Greek cyclists captured two gold medals at the track cycling world cup tournament in Columbia and the United States.

Dimitris Georgalis, Lambros Vasilopoulos, and Giorgos HimonEtos copped the gold in the track and in the Olympic sprint, which will be included in the Olympics for the first time in the year 2000.

The cyclists received a warm welcome upon their return to Athens. Among those on hand to congratulate them was the government's sports secretary.


Ancient Olympia is getting a new festival. The theatre just built to house the annual cultural series seats 3,500 people.

The amphitheatre is a copy of the ancient theatre at Epidavros.

This year's drama festival will run from July to September. There will be ancient dramas - virtually all the plays staged at Epidavros will also be performed at Olympia - and famous singers and composers, will also grace the stage. People like Charoula Alexiou, Dimitris Mitropanou, and Stamatis Spanoudakis are all lined up.

Festival art manager Dinos Stavridis says the aim of the festival is to give native and foreign artists an opportunity to provide top-quality entertainment to Greeks and tourists. For next year, festival staff members are already putting together an opera inspired by ancient Greece, and an ancient Greek tragedy in English.

© ANT1 Radio 1997

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