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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-11-08

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 08/11/1996 (ANA)


  • Main opposition ND: Party Congress as soon as possible
  • Premier pledges full support for '97 World Athletic Championships in Athens
  • ND Eurodeputy among 3 finalists for EPP's candidate to Euro-Parliament presidency
  • Transport Minister: Commission expected to approve increase in OA's equity capital
  • Transport Minister stresses importance of economic, transportation cooperation in Balkans
  • All Balkan nations should be admitted to European Union
  • Greece urges enlargement of council of Europe with central, eastern European countries
  • U.S. State Department official due in Athens next week
  • Translation of French philosopher Garaudy's book launched
  • Greek, French ministers discuss bilateral cultural relations
  • Sunken missile boat located


    ND political council decides on party congress as soon as possible

    The main opposition New Democracy party's political council, which convened yesterday afternoon, arrived at a compromise solution on the controversial issue of the procedure to be followed for next year's party congress, deciding to hold it as early as possible "March or April" with an expanded composition.

    Deputy party leader Ioannis Varvitsiotis was entrusted with the task of exploring existing possibilities towards that goal, while no leadership issue was raised during the session, and with ND leader Miltiades Evert reiterating his recent public commitm ent that on the first day of the congress he would table a proposal for election of the party leader by congress delegates.

    On his part, ND honorary president and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis stated: "The idea is maturing that the solution to the problem afflicting New Democracy will be found at the congress, which will be held as soon as possible".

    Concerning the meeting, recent leadership contender George Souflias said discussion had been "very good", while former premier Tzannis Tzannetakis said there had been full agreement.

    According to sources, the issue of a transition leadership was not raised, while others reported that Mr. Evert stressed that his only concern was for the party, and that if his presence in the leadership posed a problem, he ought to be told so bluntly.

    Earlier yesterday, Mr. Evert reiterated that he would not "violate the party's charter" but left open the possibility of taking a new role in the party.

    Addressing a meeting of the party's council of regional committee presidents, Mr. Evert remained firm in his position regarding party elections saying that "I will not under any circumstances, and in any capacity I may have, violate the charter."

    Noting that "everyone should respect the rules governing the operation of the party," Mr. Evert said that the unity of New Democracy was of primary importance.

    "What is important is the party, not Evert," he said, adding that "we must retain the unity of the party for which we have the obligation to be sacrificed."

    ND entered a new phase of crisis following its defeat in recent general elections, which gave PASOK another four-year mandate.

    Following the party's defeat, Mr. Evert submitted his resignation on the night of ND's electoral defeat, but soon returned to the ND leadership after winning internal party elections.

    ND deputy and former minister Souflias was Mr. Evert's opponent in the race for those elections. He was supported by former ministers and ND deputies, Stephanos Manos and Dora Bakoyianni. Known as "the alliance of the three", the ND deputies have been p utting pressure for new party elections to be held in June at the party congress, and requesting that a transitional leader lead the party to the ND congress.

    Commenting on his decision to re-claim the party leadership, after his decision to resign, Mr. Evert said:

    "Since efforts to find a candidate of mutual acceptance did not yield results, I decided to help by leading the party to the congress."

    Mr. Evert also claimed that New Democracy lost the elections to PASOK due to "internal party opposition."

    In an indirect reference to Mr. Mitsotakis, Mr. Evert said "how it is possible for the party to progress when party officials say that the (PASOK) prime minister is competent, that the foreign and economy ministers are excellent and that de-nationalisat ions lead to unemployment?"

    "How is it possible for a party to progress when party officials do not want the party to be on the side of those who have just claims, such as the farmers, pensioners and the small-to-mediumd-sized business owners, branding the party's positions as po pulist?"

    Stressing that New Democracy "is not the big capital's party or (the party) of the Greek Federation of Industries (SEB)," Mr. Evert said New Democracy won votes in "the poor neighbourhoods," and lost votes in the "high income regions."

    Soon, he said, those earning high incomes who voted for Mr. Simitis will realise their mistake.

    "Unfortunately the whole of the Greek people will pay for this choice, since a storm of taxes is at the gates," he added.

    Commenting on Mr. Evert's statements, Mr. Mitsotakis later said "I see an effort to cause a climate of tension."

    Asked, Mr. Mitsotakis said, however, that he did not anticipate a rupture in the party.

    In another development, Mr. Varvitsiotis met yesterday in Parliament with the 22 ND deputies that have undertaken the task of defusing the crisis in the party.

    Mr. Varvitsiotis said the initiative of the 22 deputies was very positive, adding that he was optimistic regarding its outcome.

    Premier pledges full support for `97 World Athletics Championships in Athens

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday met with the president of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), Primo Nebiolo, to discuss next year's World Athletics Championships which will be held in Athens from Aug. 1-10.

    Mr. Nebiolo was later received by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos at the Presidential Mansion.

    During his meeting with Mr. Simitis, Sports Undersecretary Andreas Fouras was also present.

    "Mr. Simitis promised that he would provide us with all assistance and assured that the Greek government would do everything possible for the faultless holding of the world championships," Mr. Nebiolo told reporters immediately after the meeting.

    Mr. Nebiolo noted that the prime minister was well aware of the fact that the world championships will be held just a few days before the International Olympic Committee decides on the country to host the 2004 Olympic Games, for which Athens is a candid ate.

    "Perhaps Athens holds the most important card," Mr. Nebiolo said.

    Mr. Fouras said that for the first 10 days of August 1997, Athens would be "the sports capital of the planet", adding that "we have the full support of the prime minister and the government in general."

    Mr. Nebiolo also had talks yesterday with Mr. Fouras and Greek Athletics Federation (SEGAS) President Stratos Molyvas at a meeting which confounded expectations of a continuation of a row between SEGAS and the sports ministry over which entity should ha ve overall responsibility for organising the world championships next year.

    At the meeting, held in a friendly atmosphere, Mr. Fouras and Mr. Molivas were in full agreement as to the duties and responsibilities of their respective sides concerning the staging of the event.

    "During my meeting with Messrs. Fouras and Molyvas, we discussed the problems which existed between the two sides and reached full agreement. The three of us signed a text setting out the relations between the sports ministry, SEGAS and the organisation al and technical committee for the championships," Mr. Nebiolo told reporters after the meeting.

    "I am very pleased that the problems have been overcome and I believe that we will have the best championships in the history of world athletics," Mr. Nebiolo added.

    "We are ready to stage a grand event," Mr. Fouras said, adding that "when I met in Atlanta in the summer with IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and Mr. Nebiolo, we agreed that the decisions pertaining to financial matters would be the responsibility of the organisational committee. This agreement was reconfirmed yesterday. At the same time, SEGAS will be responsible for all technical matters pertaining to the staging of the event."

    Mr. Molyvas said that the text signed yesterday fully reflected the federation's positions.

    According to the text of yesterday's agreement, SEGAS will receive 10 per cent of all gross income from the event.

    ND Eurodeputy among 3 finalists for EPP's candidate to Europarliament presidency

    A crucial vote will be held by the European Peoples' Party (EPP) next Wednesday on sending one of its three candidates for the post of Europarliament president to a plenary session of the EU body. Commenting on the candidacy of New Democracy party Eurodeputy Georgios Anastasopoulos, Greek EU Commissioner for Energy, SMEs and Tourism, Christos Papoutsis, said: "I think Mr. Anastasopoulos' candidacy reminds us that all the countries of the European Union are equal and I think tha t a president of the European Parliament can be equally efficient, regardless of whether or not he comes from a large country."

    Mr. Papoutsis referred to his long acquaintance with Mr. Anastasopoulos from the time they were colleagues at the European Parliament, and expressed an appreciation for his personality and important work as well as wishing him luck.

    The other two candidates are Nicole Fontaine from France and Robles Delgado from Spain. The candidate who will receive the mandate from the EPP will be judged at a plenary session in January.

    Transport Minister: Commission expected to approve increase in OA's equity capital

    Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis said in Brussels this week that the European Commission was soon expected to approve an increase in the equity capital of Olympic Airways, from 12 to 23 billion drachmas.

    He added that OA's board of governors was to decide yesterday on the signing of a contract with the MacKenzie Co. for the drawing up of its administrative structure plan within four months.

    Finally, he said that the state carrier's airplane fleet planning would be completed by March 1997, and announced that the draft bill on public procurements was nearing completion.

    The European Commission asked Athens in July for additional measures in the company's financial recovery plan, such as a change in its taxation status and the system for hiring seasonal staff.

    Mr. Kastanidis also said that his European Union counterparts would decide on increases in toll charges and the creation of free "rail corridors" across countries in the Union until Dec. 18.

    He added that he had told his counterparts in their Council meeting yesterday that any increases could not burden equally all transporters in the Union, and that account should be taken of differences in distances.

    Mr. Kastanidis said that the proposal, which was accepted by EU Transport Commissioner Neil Kinnock, would secure competitive prices for Greek produce.

    Transport minister stresses importance of economic, transportation cooperation in Balkans

    Transport Minister Haris Kastanidis said yesterday that Greece, as the only Balkan EU member, must promote, both at bilateral and at a European level, the creation of an inter-related economic cooperation region in the Balkans.

    He made the comments during the fourth two-day seminar in Thessaloniki, this time on the subject of "Businesses in a Market Without Borders."

    The transport and communications minister noted that Greece supports the demands of other Balkan countries for the development of their infrastructure. He added that in view of the expansion of the EU, Greece has taken on a leading role in the Balkan re gion.

    Mr. Kastanidis said Greece must promote certain basic choices which will give it a leading role in the transport sector of southeastern Europe, at the same time serving vital Greek interests and reinforcing the country's economy.

    The main issues being promoted by the government include the completion of the Egnatia Highway and the creation of transportation junctures with Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey as well as a coastal highway connect ing Igoumenitsa with Dubrovnik, which will cross Albania and the Dalmatian coast. Another project is the opening of a Florina-Pogradec rail link.

    All Balkan nations should be admitted to European Union

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday proposed the accession of all Balkan countries in the European Union so as to establish a Balkan pillar.

    He made the proposal while addressing the Second European Conference on Peace and Cooperation in the Balkans, which began yesterday at the Zappeion Hall.

    In statements immediately after, referring to developments in the Cyprus issue following the US elections, he said he was awaiting the manifestation of the US initiative, but was not aware of its precise content.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said he would be briefed in detail during his visit to Cyprus from November 21 to 24. However, he added, "the Greece-Cyprus joint defence doctrine remains firm".

    Replying to questions, the minister stressed the need for the continued presence of the UN force in Bosnia (IFOR) in order to ensure peace in the region, adding that the relevent decision would be taken at the NATO meeting of defence ministers.

    Greece urges enlargement of Council of Europe with central, eastern European countries

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday reaffirmed Greece's position in favour of the enlargement of the Council of Europe through the accession of the countries of central and eastern Europe.

    Speaking in Strasbourg at the 99th meeting of Council of Europe foreign ministers, Mr. Papandreou also reiterated Greece's position that the prerequisites for accession should be fulfilled without discrimination or political expediency.

    Such prerequisites for membership are that a candidate state must be one ruled by law with a democratic system of government in which human rights are respected.

    Yesterday's meeting focused on the issue of safeguarding democracy in Europe. The 40 countries represented acknowledged that the cooperation between the European Union and the Council of Europe in the struggle against racism and xenophobia was not progr essing due to the opposing views of the EU member-states.

    U.S. State Department official due in Athens next week

    Carey Cavanaugh, director of the office of southeastern European affairs at the US State Department, arrives in Athens on November 12 in the context of an informational tour of Athens, Ankara and Nicosia, foreign ministry spokesman Constantine Bikas said yesterday. Mr. Cavanaugh recently took over dealing with the Cyprus issue after James Williams, the State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus, moved on to another post in the department last month.

    Mr. Bikas said Mr. Cavanaugh would meet with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos to discuss "thoughts and ideas that exist on solving the Cyprus problem".

    Translation of French philosopher Garaudy's book launched

    The Greek translation of French philosopher Roger Garaudy's latest book was launched yesterday in an Athens hotel.

    The 83-year-old former communist, who is now a Muslim, dedicated his book "The Fundamental Myths of Israeli Politics" to the "fight against political Zionism", as a "heresy which seeks to reduce the (Jewish) religion, through a selective and literal rea ding of sacred texts, to an organ of a policy, so cannonising it."

    Presenting his book, Mr. Garaudy said he does not doubt Judaism or the legality of the Israeli state, but "the policies of Zionism". He said this policy consists of "the substitution of the God of Israel by the state of Israel, an unsinkable, nuclear ai rcraft carrier of the temporary rulers of the world: The United States, which wants to take over the oil of the Middle East."

    Although Mr. Garaudy stressed that his two previous books, against Christian and Islamic fundamentalism, received harsh criticism, he faced a "lynching without arguments" for the first time in France over this book.

    In his latest book, Mr. Garaudy, who was held in a concentration camp during the Second World War, attempts to include the words "holocaust" and "genocide" in the "contemporary mythology" of the state of Israel, doubting the number of Jewish victims of the Nazis, claming that those (Jews) killed in Nazi concentration camps were nearer 1.5 million than the four million originally claimed.

    He has also doubted that the Jewish genocide was the largest in history, speaking of the 60 million American Indians, the 100 million African slaves in the New World and the 17 million Slavs killed by the Nazis during the WWII, bringing the total dead i n that war to 60 million.

    Greek, French ministers discuss bilatera cultural relations

    PARIS (ANA - Y. Zitouniati) - Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos held a meeting yesterday with his French counterpart Philippe Douste-Blazy, where they discussed a new Greek-French educational agreement providing, among other things, the establishment of a Greek Institute in Paris.

    The agreement also includes coordination of action between the two countries regarding organisation of events marking the year 2000.

    France has endorsed Mr. Venizelos' proposal for the convening of an unofficial meeting of the 15 EU member-states to promote the cultural equality of the member-states.

    Greece has endorsed a French proposal for reinforcement of regional cooperation in the audiovisual sector between the five Mediterranean members-states of the European Union with a Greek-Latin culture and tradition.

    Talking to the press after the meeting, Mr. Blazy said the discussion also focused on the film industry, the cultural charter and Europe's cultural capitals.

    "Mr. Venizelos brought with him to Paris a specific action plan," he said, adding that "we have common plans, such as the consolidation of a common cultural charter between Greece and France."

    In addition, Mr. Blazi said he will visit Thessaloniki at the invitation of the Greek minister.

    On his part, Mr. Venizelos mentioned the meeting of the five Mediterranean member-states on Dec. 12.

    He added: "We agreed to meet with other ministers to search for a European identity in the audiovisual sector. A non-Anglo Saxon identity."

    In a related development, Mr. Venizelos also requested direct French support, apart from international forums such as UNESCO, for return of the so-called Elgin Marbles from the British Museum back to Greece. The Greek minister said return of the marbles , taken from the Parthenon in the early 19th century, is a priority for the ministry.

    Sunken missile boat located

    The wreck of the missile boat "Kostakos" which sank after being rammed by a ferry boat was yesterday located at a depth of 151 metres about one kilometre from the coast of Samos.

    Preparations immediately began to send divers down to examine the wreck in which the bodies of four crew members are believed to be trapped.

    According to informed sources, the search for the four missing is expected to be extended beyond the normal 72 hours stipulated by regulations.

    The Kostakos was taking part in the all-service "Parmenion" military exercise on Monday night when it was rammed by the ferry boat "Samaina" off the coast of Samos.

    All but four of the missile boat's 38-man crew were rescued.


    U.S. dlr 236.096 Can. dlr.177.032, Australian dlr. 184.958 Pound sterling 387.773, Irish punt 389.380, Cyprus pd 513.459, French franc 46.307, Swiss franc 186.565 Belgian franc 7.600, German mark 156.622 Finnish mark 51.941, Dutch guilder 139.614 Danish Kr. 40.749, Swedish Kr. 35.799, Norwegian Kr. 37.250, Austrian Sh. 22.258, Italian lira (100) 15.574 Yen (100) 211.048 Spanish Peseta 1.859, Portuguese Escudo 1.548.


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