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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-09-25

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.forthnet.gr/ape>


NEWS IN ENGLISH

ATHENS, Greece, 25/09/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • New Simitis gov`t sworn in
  • 'New era begins today,' Simitis tells first cabinet meeting
  • Simitis to visit Cyprus next week
  • Arsenis concerned about dangers facing the country
  • Economy, finance ministries to be merged
  • Pangalos, Michailidis stress good cooperation between Greece, Cyprus
  • New Democracy MPs urge Evert to reconsider resignation
  • Defendory exhibition in Piraeus

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    New government sworn in

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis' new 41-member government was sworn in today, kicking off a fresh four-year mandate after winning a solid victory in last Sunday's snap general elections.

    The new government was sworn in before President Costis Stephanopoulos at the Presidential Mansion. Immediatelya fter, the new Cabinet, which includes 14 newcomers, held its first meeting, chaired by Simitis.

    In the new Cabinet, 12 portfolios changed hands.

    ''A new era begins today which will be marked by an intense and systematic effort for a strong Greece, a Greece of creativity and solidarity,'' Prime Minister Costas Simitis said today shortly after chairing the first meeting of his new Cabinet.

    This, Simitis said, was the message from Sunday's general elections ''and this is what the people are expecting from the government''.

    Simitis said that both and he and the members of the government were aware of the needs which existed and the responsibilities which they had assumed, as well as the fact that it was up to the ruling PASOK party whether the country would succeed in effectively meeting the ''great challenges of the times''.

    The prime minister added that the government would immediately set about its task at a rapid pace, stressing that ''every effort must be effective''.

    Underlining however that an effort on the part of the government alone was not sufficient, Simitis called for ''the contribution and participation of all''.

    ''The battle which we must give, is the battle of all Greeks, including those who did not vote for us,'' Simitis said.

    Commenting on the result of Sunday's elections, Simitis said the outcome was a great victory for PASOK, while adding that it also belonged to ''other forces of the centre-left and progress''.

    ''An effort will be made to find a common language and common course with these forces. The wager which must be won concerns the entire country and all the Greek people,'' he added.

    Replying to questions on statements today by outgoing national defence minister Gerassimos Arsenis, who expressed concern about the dangers facing the country, Simitis said his remarks did not create a problem since he was merely expressing the known positions of the government ''as he had done also in the past''.

    On the appointment of former education minister George Papandreou as Alternate Foreign Minister, the premier said that the foreign ministry required the presence also of other persons ''in order for the task to be performed properly''.

    Asked to clarify his comments on the centre-left, Simitis replied that he had himself stated in the past which forces comprised it and what kind of cooperation PASOK would seek with them.

    ''Today I am sending the simple message that there must be contact and dialogue with these forces,'' Simitis added.

    Mr. Simitis and his associates worked around the clock over the past couple of days to put together the new 41-member cabinet, which includes 14 new ministers and undersecretaries, with 12 portfolios changing hands.

    Theodoros Pangalos has retained the Foreign Ministry, with Giorgos Papandreou, son of the late PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou, replacing Giorgos Romeos as Alternate Foreign Minister. Giorgos Romeos has been appointed Public Order Minister.

    The Defence Ministry went to Akis Tsohatzopoulos, while Vasso Papandreou retained the Development Ministry.

    Gerasimos Arsenis has replaced Giorgos Papandreou at the Education and Religious Affairs Ministry.

    The National Economy portfolio has been retained by Cambridge-educated economist Yiannos Papantoniou, who has also taken over the Finance Ministry from Alekos Papadopoulos.

    According to the announcement, PASOK will support Apostolos Kaklamanis for a fresh four-year term as Parliament President.

    The new cabinet is as follows:

    Prime Minister: Costas Simitis

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralisation Minister: Alekos Papadopoulos
    Undersecretaries: Lambros Papadimas, Anastasios Mantelis

    National Defence Minister: Akis Tsohatzopoulos
    Undersecretary: Dimitris Apostolakis

    Foreign Minister: Theodoros Pangalos
    Alternate Foreign Minister: Giorgos Papandreou
    Undersecretary: Christos Rozakis

    National Economy Minister: Yiannos Papantoniou
    Undersecretaries: Christos Pachtas, Alekos Baltas

    Finance Minister: Yiannos Papantoniou
    Undersecretaries: Giorgos Drys, Nikos Christodoulakis

    Development Minister: Vasso Papandreou
    Undersecretaries: Mihalis Chrysohoidis, Anna Diamantopoulou

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister: Costas Laliotis
    Undersecretaries: Theodoros Koliopanos, Christos Verelis

    Education and Religious Affairs Minister: Gerasimos Arsenis
    Undersecretary: Ioannis Anthopoulos

    Agriculture Minister: Stefanos Tzoumakas
    Undersecretaries: Dimitris Sotirlis, Vassilis Geranidis

    Labour and Social Security Minister: Miltiades Papaioannou
    Undersecretaries: Nicos Farmakis, Christos Protopappas

    Health and Welfare Minister: Costas Geitonas
    Undersecretaries: Manolis Skoulakis, Theodoros Kotsonis

    Justice Minister: Evangelos Yiannopoulos

    Culture Minister: Evangelos Venizelos
    Undersecretary (Sports): Andreas Fouras

    Merchant Marine Minister: Stavros Soumakis

    Public Order Minister: Giorgos Romaios

    Macedonia-Thrace Minister: Philippos Petsalnikos

    Aegean Minister: Elizabeth Papazoi

    Transport and Communications Minister: Haris Kastanidis
    Undersecretary: Manolis Loukakis

    Press and Media Minister: Dimitris Reppas
    Undersecretary to the Prime Minister's Office: Giorgos Paschalidis

    Reppas: Simitis programme

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis' scheduled visit to Cyprus will go ahead as planned, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced today.

    Simitis is due to visit Cyprus on October 1, while on October 4 the premier will fly to Dublin to attend the European Union summit, Reppas added.

    The spokesman said that the new Parliament would convene on October 7 for the swearing-in ceremony. The following day, he added, the House would elect a new president, and on October 9 the members of the new presidium.

    The speaker in the previous parliament, Apostolos Kaklamanis, would again be proposed for the position of president, Reppas said.

    On October 10, the spokesman added, Parliament would begin a three-day debate on the government's policy statements.

    Arsenis concerned about dangers facing the country

    Outgoing Defence Minister Gerassimos Arsenis today expressed concern over the dangers facing the country.

    ''The dangers are ahead of us, and so are the difficulties,'' Arsenis, who takes over the Education Ministry, said in farewell comments to the National Defence Ministry military and civilian staff.

    He said he also distrusted the dialogue approach or confidence-building measures approaches ''which lead, through the back door, to dialogue (negotiations) on all issues with Turkey which, in turn, leads to a new Zurich''.

    Arsenis praised the new National Defence Minister, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, as an experienced and seasoned cadre, adding that the civilian and military personnel of the ministry would, under Tsochatzopoulos, continue the task it had begun.

    He further asured that the new government would continue to place priority on the country's defence shield.

    Arsenis, reviewing his time at the National Defence Ministry, called on the ministry staff to do their utmost to safeguard the Greece-Cyprus unified defence doctrine, adding that it upgraded Hellenism's defence shield against Turkish expansionism, overturned the political balances in the wider region and created the necessary infrastructure for a credible foreign policy.

    He also said that the needs of the Armed Forces were being met to the extent allowed by the economy.

    Arsenis said that the armaments programme submitted to the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) secretariat "will be among the first tasks" of the new government.

    Economy, finance ministries to be merged, Papantoniou says

    Yiannos Papantoniou, who retained his national economy portfolio and has also been appointed Finance Minister in the new government, indicated today that the two ministries would be merged institutionally.

    Speaking to finance ministry personnel shortly after being sworn-in this morning, Papantoniou said ''now we will be taking unified action'', adding that ''the institutional unification of the two ministries will contribute significantly to the formulation and implementation of economic policy''.

    Outgoing finance minister Alekos Papadopoulos, who has been given the interior, public administration and decentralisation portfolio in the new government, said ''Woe betide if we fail to realize the dream, which is none other than our course to European integration''.

    Papadopoulos expressed certainty that Papantoniou would further consolidate ''the climate of confidence and stability which has been achieved over the last three years'' and ''maximise the successful results''.

    Pangalos, Mihailidis stress good cooperation between Greece, Cyprus

    Meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly yesterday, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Cypriot counterpart Alekos Mihailidis discussed issues of bilateral cooperation, the Cyprus problem and certain details of Prime Minister Costas Simitis' planned visit to Nicosia.

    Mr. Mihailidis underlined the usefulness of bilateral cooperation.

    "We are particularly happy because the results of the (Greek) elections maintain the road open for the continuation of this close cooperation between the two countries, which is very useful for the national cause of Cyprus," he said.

    Asked if he could confirm the prime minister's visit to Nicosia scheduled for October 1, Mr. Pangalos replied, "It has been planned so".

    Developments in main opposition party

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Dora Bakoyianni today proposed that the party's leadership should be assumed by an interim president until the election of a new leader at the next party conference.

    Bakoyianni put forward the proposal in talks this morning with former ND leader Miltiades Evert, who resigned following Sunday's electoral defeat, her father and honorary ND president Constantine Mitsotakis, and party cadres Stavros Dimas and Ioannis Varvitsiotis.

    Speaking to reporters on leaving Evert's office, Bakoyianni described her proposal as one of unity, adding that ''the candidates for the leadership of the party will be able to set out their political positions and arguments at the conference''.

    Stressing that the unity of the party was more important than personal ambitions, Bakoyianni proposed Tzannis Tzannetakis ''whose prestige and sensitivity is widely acknowledged'' as interim president.

    Dimas, who is general secretary of the party's parliamentary group, said later however that Bakoyianni's proposal ''is not based on the party's statutes which provide for the election of a permanent president''.

    ''In theory, everything is possible,'' Dimas added.

    Dimas said that ND supporters undoubtedly preferred ''a common decision by all to choose one person, who will have the backing of all, without the phenomena of the past which created some of our problems''.

    He was speaking to reporters after taking part in a meeting of party cadres attended by Evert, Varvitsiotis, Stephanos Manos, George Souflias, Athanasios Tsaldaris and Yiannis Kefaloyiannis.

    According to informed sources, Varvitsiotis and Kefaloyiannis proposed Costas Karamanlis, grandson of the former president of the republic of the same name, as candidate for the presidency, but this was rejected by Manos and Souflias.

    Manos reportedly said during the meeting that ND had been in the throes of ''civil war'' for the last six years between supporters of Evert and Mitsotakis, ''owing to which we lost two elections''.

    The only way to restore unity, Manos reportedly said, was for both sides to refrain from seeking the leadership.

    ''This is the only clear way forward, otherwise there is a danger of (the party) breaking up or this situation being perpetuated,'' Manos reportedly said.

    According to the same sources, Bakoyianni's proposal is also opposed by Tsaldaris, Varvitsiotis and Manos.

    Souflias, meanwhile, is expected to announce his candidacy for the presidency tonight.

    At the same time, deputies loyal to Evert continue to gather signatures to petition the former leader to run once again for president of the party.

    Valsamis Giovanoudas said today that more than 60 ND deputies had so far signed the petition.

    According to some party sources, Evert remains firm in his decision not to run for president, while other sources maintain that he is in a quandry about running due to the large number of signatures.

    Informed sources said Evert did not make his intentions clear at this morning's meeting.

    Turmoil continues in the main opposition New Democracy party following the resignation of party leader Miltiades Evert after ND's defeat in the elections and the announcement of two candidacies for the party's leadership.

    Deputies loyal to Mr. Evert are gathering signatures to persuade him to reconsider his decision and to seek the party's leadership again.

    Many deputies signing the relevant document visited Mr. Evert yesterday morning and briefed him on their intentions. Some of them claim that he has agreed with this move, while others said Mr. Evert is insisting on his decision not to seek the party's l eadership.

    According to a scenario being promoted by senior ND members supporting Mr. Evert, if more than 60 deputies support him, he could seek the leadership and then hold a party congress to have the issue settled.

    ND spokesman Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the announcements of Stefanos Manos' and Dora Bakoyianni's candidacies were premature.

    Former Prime Minister Tzannis Tzannetakis has supported the idea of a transitional leader being elected by the body of electors and a new leader being elected at a party congress.

    Meanwhile, deputies and former deputies have been visiting ND honorary leader and former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, and have called on him to submit his candidacy for the party's leadership.

    It is believed that the party's leadership will not be sought by Mr. Varvitsiotis and Constantinos Karamanlis in the event that Mr. Evert announces his candidacy.

    However, in a statement to Antenna Radio, Mr. Mitsotakis said democratic processes anticipated by the party's charter safeguard party unity and there is no risk of a split whatsoever.

    ND's Executive Committee is to convene today to begin processes aimed at electing prefectural committee representatives.

    Defendory exhibition

    Ten British companies and two defence ministry organisations will be taking part in this year's Defendory Exhibition of defence systems and equipment to be held in Piraeus October 1-5, the British Embassy announced today.

    The participants would be part of a group organised by the Defence Manufacturers Association (DMA) with the support of the British Department of Trade and Industry, an embassy press release said.

    The DMA, which represents companies manufacturing fully integrated defence systems, sub-systems and special equipment and which also provides support services, will have an information stand at the biennial exhibition, while the Defence Export Service Organisation (DESO), which is part of the British Defence Ministry, would be participating with its own pavilion.

    WEATHER

    Sunny to partly cloudy in most parts of the country with temperatures rannging from 18-27C in Athens and 15-24C in Thessaloniki.

    SPORTS

    Both Greek teams participating in the UEFA Cup last night were disqualified.

    Olympiakos drew 2-all at home with Hungary's Ferencvaros, having lost the away match 1-3.

    Panathinaikos narrowly missed qualification, conceding a second goal three minutes into injury time to Legia in Warsaw, and having won the first leg at home 4-2.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)

    U.S. dlr 237.276, Can. dlr.173.402, Australian dlr. 187.195, Pound sterling 369.619, Irish punt 380.531, Cyprus pd 512.070, French franc 46.297, Swiss franc 192.086 Belgian franc 7.618, German mark 156.865, Finnish mark 52.346, Dutch guilder 139.897 Danish Kr. 40.835, Swedish Kr. 36.008, Norwegian Kr. 36.686, Austrian Sh. 22.296, Italian lira (100) 15.568 Yen (100) 216.097, Spanish Peseta 1.865, Portuguese Escudo 1.541.

    (M.P.)


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