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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-10-07

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, 07/10/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLNES

  • New Parliament sworn in
  • Acceleration of Maastricht Treaty revision decided in Dublin
  • Greek Communist party calls for referendum on Maastricht Treaty
  • Athens comments on reports of US pressure on Cyprus
  • Evert, Souflias continue consultations following Friday's election
  • Two Turkish soldiers defect

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    New Parliament sworn in

    Greece's new 300-member Parliament that emerged from the September 22 early general elections was sworn in today, in two different ceremonies

    First to be sworn in before Archbishop Serapheim of Athens and All Greece were 297 deputies who are members of the predominantly Greek Orthodox faith.

    Three others MPs, members of Greece's Moslem minority, were sworn in immediately afterwards.

    In the new House, the ruling socialist PASOK party controls 162 seats, the conservative main opposition New Democracy party (ND) 108 seats, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) 11, the returning Coalition of the Left and Progress (SYN) 10, and the newly-formed Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) nine seats.

    Parliament will meet again tomorrow to elect its new presidium.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will present the government's policy statement to the House on Thursday, to be followed by a three-day debate that ends midnight Saturday with a vote of confidence.

    According to informed sources, the government will target a one trillion dr .increase in revenues in the next year primarily through a crackdown on tax evasion, reducing public expenditures and curbing tax exemptions.


    European Union leaders wrapped up an extraordinary summit in Dublin on Saturday, deciding to accelerate processes on revising the Maastricht Treaty.

    In addition, all the leaders of the EU member-states expressed a desire for processes to be concluded in order to facilitate a new treaty at an upcoming Amsterdam summit in June 1997.

    This position was also supported by Greece, although Prime Minister Costas Simitis, speaking at a press conference after the summit meeting, said he was not optimistic that a revised Maastricht Treaty could be ready in June.

    He said the reason for this relates to elections in Britain next May, which he said will not give British Prime Minister John Major much freedom of movement. However, Mr. Major assured EU leaders during discussions that he will make efforts to ensure th at the revision of the Maastricht Treaty will proceed promptly.

    In addition, Mr. Simitis said that at the session a proposal by certain countries - evidently referring to positions by France and Germany - to have only a few focal points in the new treaty promoted was not approved.

    Most countries, including Greece, reacted to this proposal and as a result, the agenda for negotiations on revising the treaty will remain the same, while the right of small countries to express their positions will not be restricted.

    Stressing that the extraordinary summit in Dublin was useful, Mr. Simitis said that on the intricate issue of foreign and defence policy, Greece underlined the need for a substantive and effective foreign and security policy, and that the new treaty mus t cover territorial integrity matters, as well as safeguarding external borders. It must also establish the principle of political solidarity and promote the development of defence cooperation, he added.

    Replying to questions, Mr. Simitis said there is a basis for promoting Greek positions and added that the response of EU partners to them is slow but steadfast.

    Commenting on the principle of "flexibility", which was being promoted by France and Germany, Mr. Simitis said Greece and other countries were opposed to a general flexibility clause. However, they were prepared to discuss special settlements.

    During Saturday's session, Mr. Simitis also raised the issues of employment, development of islands, the environment and drug trafficking.

    Assessments

    The latest extraordinary summit may have not provided decisions, apart from the one concerning the hope of most EU member-states that the intergovernmental conference's processes go ahead at a speedier rate, however, it was "useful", Mr. Simitis said, concerning a probe of the intentions of each member-state.

    The usefulness of the session can be assessed, in connection with European developments in general, by the fact that the object of the next confrontation in the EU appeared. While, regarding issues of Greek concern, considerable progress was achieved, a t least with regard to their understanding.

    According to assessments by members of the Greek delegation, results are positive for Greece, which is gaining ground slowly but steadily, both in connection with its national issues and the positions it supports on European unification issues.

    The position observed by the Dutch representation at the Dublin session was positive for Greece, who made overtures towards Athens. Confirmation of this assessment is the premier's intention to visit The Hague at the end of November, before the OSCE's session in Lisbon, to discuss bilateral issues.


    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) yesterday reiterated a call for a referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, accusing the government of following a dangerous policy by relying on the European Union and NATO for the protection of the country's borders.

    "It has been proven that the government's much-advertised goal that Greece's borders also become Europe's borders remains within the sphere of wishful thinking, while at the same time constituting a dangerous policy, by leaving the defence of national s overeignty to those who divide nations and peoples, the EU and NATO," a statement in response to the EU summit in Dublin said.

    "At Dublin, it was again re-affirmed that the revision of the Maastricht Treaty will form a more reactionary European Union, dominated by the hard core of the major imperialist forces, the Franco-German axis, and with the peoples of Europe as their vict ims," the statement read.

    Athens comments on reports of US pressure

    Greece has not received any official proposal from the United States over reported pressure on Athens and Nicosia to call a moratorium on Greek and Turkish flights over Cyprus, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.

    The only related draft-proposal which exists, he added, was that by US ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright for a military dialogue in Cyprus, which has been welcomed by the Cypriot side and not by the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Reppas stressed that Greek-Cypriot cooperation in military exercises currently under way were part of the "defensive and deterrent" joint defence doctrine, which, he added, existed precisely because a part of Cyprus was under occupation.

    He added that any pressure on the Cypriot government on how it organised its defence or if it invited Greek forces to joint exercises was "illogical".


    In the aftermath of the main opposition New Democracy party`s leadership election on Friday, the two candidates, re-elected ND president Miltiades Evert and former minister George Souflias, continued contacts with supporters and colleagues over the weekend in a search for new alliances and roles within the party.

    Sources said yesterday that Mr. Evert had received several recommendations from ND cadres to proceed with a reorganisation of the party's structure, to convene party bodies and to begin procedures for a party congress sometime in the spring.

    Meanwhile, deputy Costas Karamanlis, the nephew of former president of the republic and ND founder Constantine Karamanlis, clearly indicated in an interview in yesterdayYs "Eleftherotypia" newspaper that he would be prepared to contest the leadership of the party in the future, but under certain conditions.

    "I wish to become the leader if it is certain that the party can be resurrected and governed under favourable terms," he added.

    Mr. Karamanlis confirmed in his interview that he had been approached to run for ND`s leadership, but had considered it prudent not to be involved, saying the race had taken place on terms more reminiscent of a beauty pageant.

    He added that the clash between Mr. Evert and former premier Constantine Mitsotakis was purely personal, stressing that there were no ideological and political differences within the party and that "perhaps the solution would be for both of them to fin d themselves outside the leadership".

    Rallis

    In another newspaper interview published yesterday in the "Kathimerini" newspaper, former ND premier George Rallis expressed the view that the continuous changes in the party's leadership and internal disputes harmed its impact, and that Mr. Evert could consolidate his position at the next party congress under certain conditions.

    Commenting on a statement by Mr. Mitsotakis that a party also needs supporters, Mr. Rallis largely blamed the honorary ND leader for the ND's misfortunes.

    "Mr. Mitsotakis would do well not to talk so much, because he bears a great responsibility for the state the party is in," he said.

    In addition, Mr. Rallis said he considered that there was no prospect for the party espousing the ideas of former ministers Andreas Andrianopoulos and Stephanos Manos, both ardent supporters of privatisations.

    "New parties need leaders. Andrianopoulos and Manos are not personalities capable of leading a new party," he said.

    Turkish soldiers defect

    Two young Turkish soldiers crashed through the Kipoi border post in northern Greece shortly after midnight today in a dramatic escape from what they called "unbearable conditions in the Turkish army".

    Police identified them as Urkun Usal, 21, Mumin Cicek, 20. With them was a civilian, identified as Rifat Ayaz, 17.

    Border authorities said the three crashed through the border barriers in a truck in an attempt to avoid customs control. Police patrol cars chased them and arrested them a short while later.

    Questioned by police, they claimed that they had chosen to escape in this way because they "could no longer tolerate the Turkish regime and particularly conditions in the army".

    The three were referred to the Alexandroupolis public prosecutor on charges of illegally entering the country and the destruction of public property.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said later that the two soldiers, who are of Kurdish origin, intended to apply for political asylum.

    He said that the competent authorities were dealing with the matter.

    WEATHER

    Cloudy in most parts of the country with possible sunshine later in the day with temperatures ranging from 15-26C in Athens and from 14-22C in Thessaloniki.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Buying)

    U.S. dlr 240.905, Can. dlr.176.828, Australian dlr. 190.133, Pound sterling 376.906, Irish punt 384.942, Cyprus pd 514.552, French franc 46.418, Swiss franc 191.628 Belgian franc 7.629, German mark 157.117, Finnish mark 52.642, Dutch guilder 140.049 Danish Kr. 40.987, Swedish Kr. 36.404, Norwegian Kr. 36.943, Austrian Sh. 22.344, Italian lira (100) 15.844 Yen (100) 216.170 Spanish Peseta 1.868, Portuguese Escudo 1.551.

    (M.P.)


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