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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 16/11/1998 (ANA)


  • Seminar on `European identity` addressed by Simitis, Delors
  • Karamanlis calls for real EU convergence, cuts in public spending
  • Patriot missile veers off course at Crete firing range
  • Gov't reiterates support for Kurds' self -determination
  • Seminar on issues related to deportation of illegals from EU
  • Security stepped up in light of Nov. 17 events
  • Diplomats briefed on western Macedonia's prospects
  • Balkanesque 'Powder Keg' picked as best Euro-film
  • NAPC warns that operations will end next week
  • Seminar on combatting juvenile sex exploitation
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Seminar on `European identity` addressed by Simitis, Delors

Prime Minister Costas Simitis and former European Commission president Jacques Delors were the two keynote speakers at a weekend seminar focusing on the quest for a European identity, which ended in Athens on Saturday.

The democratic ideal is perhaps the weightiest element that could contribute to the formation of a single European political identity, above cultural or utility criteria, Mr. Delors noted.

The seminar, whose attendants included 30 prominent European academics, was organised by the "Our Europe" foundation which Mr. Delors heads, and the Greek Centre of European Studies (EKEM).

The attainment of such a political community required that the EU itself sought greater democracy, greater transparency and that it came nearer its citizens, Mr. Delors stressed.

In his speech Mr. Simitis siad: "A vision, a plan that excites and mobilises, cannot merely reproduce what already exists, but must supercede it, moving feelings and imagination. The creation of a single market, a single currency and single institutions does not guarantee that an area with different languages, different religions and different lifestyles will become a single entity and overcome either increasing socio-economic differentials or the deeply rooted perception of the nation-state," Mr. Simitis said.

The answer lay in the activation of unification processes on many levels that would promote cohesive dynamics.

Karamanlis calls for real EU convergence, cuts in public spending

Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said on Saturday that Greece ought to promote "real, rather than merely nominal convergence with other European Union economies", placing particular emphasis on the state's role and the trimming of public expenditures.

"The excessive involvement of the state in the productive process, its centralised form and the very poor quality of its services constitute the most serious problems that must be solved," he said during an address at the "Money Show" conference.

Referring to the Greek tax system, the ND leader said it needed simplification on a stable four-year basis, a gradual reduction of rates, and an immediate abolition of taxes on large real estate holdings and banking transactions.

Patriot missile veers off course at Crete firing range

A Patriot anti-aircraft missile fell into the sea off the Crete firing range last Thursday morning before reaching its target, causing concern among some residents in Hania prefecture.

The military command of the firing range, as reported in several of yesterday's Athens papers, issued a press release noting that the missile did not overfly the range's boundaries.

The press release added that an investigation is underway.

According to reports, a unit of German officers specialising on missile systems arrived at the firing range a week ago.

Gov't reiterates support for Kurds' self -determination

Athens has renewed its criticism of Turkey for its military operations against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, reiterating its support for the self-determination of the Kurdish people.

"Greece has systematically supported the right of the Kurds to their national self-determination," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas told reporters Saturday, in response to questions on the arrest of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan in Rome on Thursday.

"We have repeatedly and in a more thorough manner than anyone else raised before international fora the problem posed by the crude violation of human rights in southeastern Turkey, as well as the problem created by Turkey's military operations in northern Iraq," he said.

"It is clear that Greece does not support violence as a means of resolving political differences, and neither encourages nor covers armed activities against other countries. Greece respects international treaties and legality. This position is the axis and the founding stone of our policy," he added.

Mr. Ocalan's arrest and Turkish demands for his extradition drew condemnation from Greek political parties on Saturday and yesterday. "The extradition of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan would be a vindication of the murder of thousands of Kurds, of the in tervention of the Turkish armed forces in Iraqi Kurdistan, of the threats against Syria, and of a series of other terrorist actions," according to a press release by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

KKE also called on the Greek government to exert all its influence as not to extradite the legendary PKK leader either to Turkey or to Germany.

Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) called on the Italian government not to extradite the Kurdish leader.

"At a time when the Kurdish issue is going through a new phase, the European Union is called upon to take initiatives with Greece's active contribution as well, in order to lay the bases for a political handling of the problem according to the rules of international legality," Synaspismos said in a statement. The Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) said Mr. Ocalan was not "a terrorist but a symbol and the leader of the Kurdish people's liberation struggle", and called on Athens to use all diplo matic means and influence with Italy to grant him political asylum.

Seminar on issues related to deportation of illegals from EU

The public order ministry is organising a two-day seminar today in Athens and focusing on the issue of deporting and reintroducting illegal immigrants into their own society.

The European Commission-funded seminar, part of the "Odysseas" programme initiative, will focus on the exchange of technical knowledge, practices and methods of planning for the deportation of illegal immigrants from the European Union.

The Greek ministry has invited representatives from France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal, as well as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania.

Security stepped up in light of Nov. 17 events

The Athens Polytechnic's gates opened yesterday morning in light of three days of events to mark the 25th anniversary of a students' uprising at the campus in 1973 against a military junta then ruling Greece (1967-1974).

Dozens of residents were seen laying flowers at a monument inside the Polytechnic.

As in past years, concern is again focused on security at the downtown Athens campus.

Additional police units were deployed in the Polytechnic's vicinity and other university and public buildings as of yesterday, a preventive measure against disturbances.

Violent protests and widespread vandalism, mostly by self-styled anarchist youths, have plagued Nov. 17 anniversaries in recent years.

Diplomats briefed on western Macedonia's prospects

Development Deputy Minister Anna Diamantopoulou yesterday spoke to a diplomatic delegation regarding the development potential of the Kozani and Florina regions.

The ambassadors of Canada, Korea and Romania as well as several consuls assigned to Thessaloniki yesterday visited lignite pits in the region, where 75 per cent of Greece's electricity is produced. They also visited the village of Krokos, where 80 per cent of the medicinal plant by the same name is cultivated.

Ms Diamantopoulou noted the comparative advantages that Greece offers for joint investments as well as direct investments, following an improvment of the country's economic indicators over the past few years.

Regarding western Macedonia, she referred to major infrastructure projects, such as the under-construction Egnatia motorway and industrial parks, among others.

Balkanesque 'Powder Keg' picked as best Euro-film

Yugoslav director Goran Paskalievic's "Powder Keg" has won the best European film of the year award at the 39th Thessalonki Film festival over the weekend.

The announcement was made by the secretary of the International Union of Film Critics (FIPRESI) Klaus Eder.

Mr. Paskalievic later said the film, shot in two months, was the result of his need to speak about his country, and the hope that can come from humanism.

"The war in Bosnia has become a fashionable theme, something like Vietman, but I wished to present another aspect; to show that the Serbian nation is not a nation of murderers. I wanted to make a simple story with common people," he said.

In a separate development, noted British film director Peter Greenaway said he saw no future in cinema as we know it today.

"Cinema is dead. There are no longer interesting film directors, having turned to other areas, such as new technologies, which open new possibilities for a presentation of non-narrative thought. Cinema today is like a video satyrical work or a literary text," he told reporters attending the festival.

"We are no longer happy with Casablanca art. In a few years' time, the 'Titanic' will seem like a 19th century lecture," he added.

Mr. Greenaway revealed he planned to stage a large art exhibition in Thessalonki in 2001, entitled "Zero-2001," and extending to all subjects from 0 until 2001.

Yesterday, an exhibition of Mr. Greenaway's paintings, texts and sketches was inaugurated at the Macedonian Modern Art Centre.

Meanwhile, repeat performances of his "100 Objects Representing the World" prop-opera at the theatre of the Macedonian Studies Society are scheduled for today, tomorrow, and Wednesday.

NAPC warns that operations will end next week

The North Aegean Petroleum Co. (NAPC), which currently holds the concession for exploitation of offshore oil deposits at the Prinos site, near the island of Thassos, announced on Saturday that it would cease production next week due to rising losses.

The move follows bitter acrimony with workers, who have opposed the consortium's announcement of redundancies and pay cuts.

NAPC had stated last month it would halt operations at the oilfield yesterday.

In a bid to defuse the clash, NAPC executives, union leaders and government representatives are scheduled to meet on Wednesday at the development ministry.

On the agenda are whether NAPC will continue to exploit oil deposits at the site or cease operations on all fronts.

NAPC has ordered 180 lay-offs among its 400 staff at installations on Thassos and near the mainland port city of of Kavala; and a 30 per cent pay cut for remaining workers.

Last month NAPC said that losses were rising, and the company could only manage to break even through a roughly 30 per cent reduction in operational costs. In the absence of cutbacks, most workers would be laid off and a small team retained in order to wind up production and guard installations.

The union has said its members are adamant in resisting any redundancies or pay cuts.

Seminar on combatting juvenile sex exploitation

A "Save the Children" seminar on "sexual exploitation and the trade of minors" concluded yesterday in Athens.

The European Commission-sponsored event examined methods to prevent such tragic phenomena. 'Save the Children' President Niki Goulandri said: "You are the voice for these children. Today, the struggle begins...It regards an issue with many dark sides, an issue that is taboo for western societies, but is so widespread and inhumane."

The seminar's conclusions defined the problem's parameters as sexual abuse inside and outside the home, sexual exploitation with the production of pornographic films and magazines as well as the international trading of minors.

Participants stressed the fact that part of the problem is lack of correct exposure by the media and lack of legal infrastructure.

The conclusions of the seminar presented solutions, including healthcare programmes.


Overcast weather with rain and storms is forecast throughout Greece today. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Partly cloudy in Athens with temperatures beween 13-20C. Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures will be from 8-15C.


Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 282.621 British pound 470.387 Japanese yen (100) 231.642 French franc 49.848 German mark 167.261 Italian lira (100) 16.889 Irish Punt 415.965 Belgian franc 8.101 Finnish mark 54.967 Dutch guilder 148.200 Danish kr. 43.946 Austrian sch. 23.747 Spanish peseta 1.965 Swedish kr. 34.823 Norwegian kr. 37.595 Swiss franc 203.087 Port. Escudo 1.627 Aus. dollar 179.909 Can. dollar 182.310 Cyprus pound 565.182


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