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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-12-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 05/12/1997 (ANA)


  • Simitis urges solidarity among Cabinet
  • Tsohatzopoulos to brief Parliamentary c'tee on NATO
  • Students clash with police in central Athens
  • Bird grounds OA flight
  • World Council of Hellenes Abroad meeting continues
  • ISTAME conference on EU enlargement under way
  • Italy returns stolen artifacts
  • Exhibition of 'Alexander and the East' inaugurated
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Simitis urges solidarity among Cabinet

Prime Minister Costas Simitis today stressed the need for a uniform policy and urged solidarity among his ministers, following opposition to the government's decision to sign an agreement on NATO's new structure, openly expressed by Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis.

According to informed sources, Simitis told the Cabinet today that there was "a specific framework of operation" and cohesion was needed.

He said ministers should not publicly express disagreement with the government.

The same sources said that Arsenis stuck to his views, noting that politicians were obliged to speak their mind and this is what he intended to do.

He reportedly told Simitis that if, as leader, he thought there was an issue, the prime minister could always impose sanctions.

According to members of the Cabinet, Simitis replied that when he deemed it necessary, he would do so, while observing that he himself was not in favour of sanctions.

Turning to Arsenis, sources said, Simitis observed that each person would have to assume their responsibilities and the repercussions of their actions.

After the Cabinet meeting, Arsenis, a former defence minister, told reporters that he stood by his views.

He described the discussion at the meeting as "good" and thanked his colleagues for having been given time to explain his positions.

"I stand by my positions," he said, adding "this discussion should have taken place before December 2", a possible reference to the date on which the government agreed to sign the agreement on NATO's new structure.

Replying to questions, Arsenis said the issue of his removal had not been raised.

During the Cabinet meeting, press sources said, Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos rhetorically asked how many staffs he had and how many ministries he headed, adding that he himself disagreed with certain developments in the education sector but says nothing.

Tsohatzopoulos to brief Parliamentary c'tee on NATO

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will brief on Wednesday the standing parliamentary committee on national defence and foreign affairs on the new NATO command structure agreed by Alliance defence ministers in Brussels earlier this week.

The committee is being convened for this purpose by its chairman, PASOK deputy Eleftherios Veryvakis.

The accord, which has sparked criticism from the opposition and the ruling party's hardliners against the Simitis government and Tsohatzopoulos for consenting to it, is to be ratified by NATO foreign ministers at their December 16 meeting.

The Cabinet was meeting today to discuss the deal.

The convening of the parliamentary committee comes after separate letters from ruling and opposition MPs yesterday to Veryvakis calling for a briefing by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos before the December 16 meeting.

Students clash with police in central Athens

A group of students participating in a protest march in central Athens' Stadiou Street early this afternoon clashed with police who used teargas to disperse the demonstrators.

Representatives of students marching to the Education Ministry complained at the number of police officers monitoring the march. When the police did not withdraw, a group of students bringing up the rear of the march clashed with riot police.

Order was eventually restored and the demonstrators continued to the Ministry in Mitropoleos St., which is under heavy police guard.

Students say two of their number were slightly injured in the scuffles and another was taken into custody.

Bird grounds OA flight

An Olympic Airways flight from Alexandroupolis, in northeast Greece, to Athens was delayed for 6.5 hours this morning after a hawk flew into the Boeing 737's right turbine engine, forcing the pilot to abort take- off.

OA technicians flew to Alexandroupolis on a special flight from Athens, repaired the damage and the aircraft eventually took off at 1.30 pm local time.

World Council of Hellenes Abroad meeting continues

The World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) continued its first ordinary meeting in Thessaloniki today with speeches from candidates for the post of president for the next two years.

Andrew Athens, who has been president of SAE since its foundation in December 1995, expressed the hope that the Council would have the means to become financially independent of the Greek state by 1999.

Responding from criticism from his rival for the post, Theodoros Spyropoulos, that he had not displayed enough force in supporting Greek issues in the US, Athens stressed that the only way achieve anything was through a calm presentation of arguments.

Spyropoulos called for complete independence from partisan influences and particularly from the Greek General Secretariat for Overseas Greeks.

"It is unacceptable for the Secretariat to choose conference delegates when it has no knowledge of the particular characteristics of each region," he said.

Proposals have been made for amendments to the SAE charter so that the selection of representatives is made by the local community organisations themselves.

Other issues on today's agenda included discussions of ways to promote the Greek language among diaspora Greeks, particularly the younger generation, by sending teachers, books and other teaching material from Greece. Greek language education abroad has chiefly been in the hands of the Church, something which has raised objections from various quarters.

ISTAME conference on EU enlargement under way

A conference entitled "European Enlargement and Southeastern Europe" held by the Institute for Strategic and Development Studies - Andreas Papandreou (ISTAME) began in Athens today. Thirty-four representatives of Socialist and Social Democrat parties and institutes from Balkan and European countries are discussing the enlargement of the European Union as it affects political, social and economic developments in southeastern Europe.

Addressing this morning's session, European Parliament Vice-President and PASOK Eurodeputy Paraskevas Avgerinos predicted that Turkey would be "the biggest thorn in Europe's side" over the next few years. He urged the EU to ensure that any new members would be capable of facing up to all the responsibilities involved in that membership if cohesion was to be maintained.

He also raised doubts as to whether the EU budget would be able to meet the requirements of enlargement and expressed fears as to the cost to southern states.

With regard to the proposed European Conference for states wishing to join the EU, Avgerinos contended that the majority of members of the European Parliament were against holding such a conference, preferring that only "democratic states" be invited.

The agenda for the two-day conference centres on the political and economic situation in southeastern Europe, the institutional reconstruction of Balkan states, minorities and a civil society, as well as multicultural Balkan societies within national boundaries.

Italy returns stolen artifacts

Several priceless artifacts stolen in illegal excavations to Greece have been returned from Italy after a three-year legal battle, the National Archaeological Museum announced.

The 187 copper artifacts and Mycenaean urns, illegally dug up in several regions of Greece and confiscated in the Italian port of Brindisi three years ago, were returned yesterday and are temporarily being housed in the Archaeological Museum in Athens.

The artifacts were smuggled out of Greece through the central Greek port of Patras by two Greeks who were arrested in Brindisi, in a case that also involved well-known Munich gallery owner Antonio Savoca.

Savoca last year had appealed a ruling for their return by a court in Lece, southern Italy. The ruling was upheld by the Brindisi court, the Museum said.

Exhibition of 'Alexander and the East' inaugurated

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday inaugurated the "Alexander and the East" archeaological exhibition in Thessaloniki.

"The exhibition reflects the grandeur of Greece many centuries ago and shows us how we can create this grandeur today," Mr.Simitis said.

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said during his address that "the legend of the well-known and the most powerful of all Greek legends..."


Cloudy weather will prevail throughout Greece today with rain mainly in the west, Thrace, eastern Macedonia and the Aegean islands. Winds variable, light to strong. Possibility of evening showers in Athens with temperatures between 9-18C. Clouds and moderate winds in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 6-14C.


Thursday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 275.836 Pound sterling 463.066 Cyprus pd 532.506 French franc 46.479 Swiss franc 192.408 German mark 155.615 Italian lira (100) 15.874 Yen (100) 213.280 Canadian dlr. 194.035 Australian dlr. 185.325 Irish Punt 405.133 Belgian franc 7.543 Finnish mark 51.507 Dutch guilder 138.091 Danish kr. 40.876 Swedish kr. 35.498 Norwegian kr. 38.500 Austrian sch. 22.117 Spanish peseta 1.841 Port. Escudo 1.524


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