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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-11-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 30/11/1998 (ANA)


  • Simitis' letter to Blair 'third road' for European centre-left
  • Greek-Iranian cooperation agreement signed in Tehran
  • Santer quoted as saying Greece well-placed to enter EMU by 2001
  • Customs strike this week
  • Tsohatzopoulos: No disagreement between Athens, Nicosia
  • Clerides: Cyprus today's 'Thermopylae'
  • Human Rights Watch 1998 report details torture situation in Turkey
  • Gov't unveils new police unit as measure against bank robberies
  • Archdiocese of America calls for US support of Patriarchate
  • Christodoulos touches on Church's role towards EMU
  • Greek first division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Simitis' letter to Blair 'third road' for European centre-left

Problems posed by today's "globalised reality" and the future of the modern European centre-left, were the focus of Prime Minister Costas Simitis' repsonse to British counterpart Tony Blair.

Mr. Simitis, who responded in a letter, expressed his thoughts on the so- called "third road" for European centre-left governments.

Underlining the current problems posed by the globalised reality, Mr. Simitis indicated that their solutions should correspond with a European demand for the reinforcement of social cohesion and the creation of conditions which "will permanently ward-off the spectre of social exclusion", while safe-guarding economic development.

The Greek PM's letter focused on six points: first, that an effective response to globalisation cannot ignore social cohesion; it should on the contrary safeguard it, while not placing in danger economic development.

Mr. Simitis said societies of northern EU states should be organised on a "more rational basis", while he stressed that the EU's southern states are inadequate concerning basic social services.

Noting the importance of economic stability, which he called "acquis" of the EU for the last decade, he stressed that this stability should become the basic and adequate precondition to achieve social stability and low unemployment.

He added that the incorporation of economic stability in a European centre- left programme "would totally distance (the possibilty of) irresponsible leftist practises of the past."

Regarding the environment and the quality of life, Mr. Simitis said that for the centre-left "development is a qualitative and not just an economic process."

Mr. Simitis' letter also touched on what he called a new European 'patriotism'.

"European convergence should lead to cultural homogeneity. In the same way, a strong national identity is not incomptible with the idea of a European citizen."

Lastly, Mr. Simitis insisted on the importance of culture in the development of "our personality" and collective identity.

Greek-Iranian cooperation agreement signed in Tehran

Greece and Iran yesterday sealed a wide-ranging agreement expected to inaugurate bilateral cooperation in the sectors of research, technology, agriculture, informatics, energy and telecommunications.

Signing the memorandum in Tehran were Development Minister Vasso Papandreou and Iran's Higher Education Minister, Mostafa Moin.

The agreement also refers to information exchanges, conferences, talks, seminars and science fairs, while the sectors of food production and cultural heritage are also included.

The two ministers underlined the need to broaden links between Greek and Iranian scientific and technological institutions.

Scientific and technical committees will meet annually in order to arrange seminars and verify that terms of the agreement are being carried out.

Santer quoted as saying Greece well-placed to enter EMU by 2001

Greece is well-placed to enter in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 2001, European Commission President Jacques Santer was quoted as saying in an interview published by an Athens daily yesterday.

Mr. Santer reportedly told "Ethnos" that he was categorically opposed to reducing cohesion fund monies for Greece and said that economic and not political criteria would determine Greece's accession into EMU .

He added that the Commission would persist with its decision to begin accession negotiations with Cyprus and expressed the hope that accession talks could stimulate a political resolution to the 24-year division of the island.

Mr. Santer called Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides' proposal for Turkish Cypriots' inclusion in the Cyprus delegation negotiating the island republic's EU accession "very fair". He added that it was unfortunate that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash refused the offer.

Customs strike this week

Customs officers begin a week of rolling strikes as of today, following the breakdown of talks with the labour ministry over the future of their pension fund.

Customs officers want their capital-rich pension fund exempted from labour ministry plans to merge a number of public sector pension funds, part of the ministry's "mini-reforms" of the pension and health system.

A warning strike by customs officers earlier this month caused chaos at Greece's borders, with hundreds of lorries stranded at border posts.

Tsohatzopoulos: No disagreement between Athens, Nicosia

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed yesterday that both Greece and Cyprus supported the policy decided on and followed regarding the purchase by Nicosia of Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and various scenarios for their deployment.

"The Cyprus and Greek government support the policy they have been up to now announcing and applying. Nevertheless, we are obliged to follow developments and, with tactical moves, to adapt ourselves to conditions and problems that arise," Mr.Tsohatzopoulos told reporters before departing for Finland to participate in a European Socialist Party (ESP) conference.

"In a discussion on various possible developments there are undoubtedly different views, but that does not necessarily mean a disagreement," he said.

"We do the best we can to guarantee Cyprus' and Greece's security and defence, and at the same time to support the positive prospect for a settlement to the Cyprus problem through the island republic's EU accession talks," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

The defence minister's statements follow a Cyprus-Greece meeting between government delegations last Friday in Athens presided over by Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Prime Minister Costas Simitis. On Saturday from Patra, Mr. Clerides also de nied that there was any breach between Athens and Nicosia and that the joint defence doctrine between the two countries was sound. Mr. Clerides told reporters that reports the Russian S- 300 missiles would be deployed on Crete rather than Cyprus were false and denied that Mr. Simitis had proposed the alternative site.

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou denied yesterday that there was a rift between Athens and Nicosia over deployment of the S-300s.

"There is no difference of opinion between Greece and Cyprus on the issue of the Russian S-300 missiles," Mr. Papandreou told reporters in Patras.

Cooperation between the two governments was systematic and close, aimed at achieving the best for both sides, as Mr. Clerides had pointed out, Mr. Papandreou said.

Clerides: Cyprus today's 'Thermopylae'

Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides on Satruday called his island republic the southern "Thermopylae of Hellenism" during a visit to Patras.

The Cypriot president arrived in the western Peloponnese port city to honour Greek soldiers Alexis Christopoulos and Georgios Martzaklis, both killed in action during the July 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

Mr. Clerides called the Greek soldiers in Cyprus heroes, noting that Athens and Nicosia have a joint course.

Local leaders and Cypriot representatives also addressed the event.

Mr. Clerides also spoke at the University of Patras on the latest developments regarding the Cyprus problem.

Human Rights Watch 1998 report details torture situation in Turkey

The Human Rights Watch's (HRW) 1998 report was released on Friday, where among others, it condemns Turkey for a series of human rights violations.

The report, covering the period December 1997 to November 1998, accused Turkey for what it called systematical use of "torture and mistreatment during pre-trial detention by the anti-terror police"; failure to aid those the government forcibly displaced ; state control of women's virginity; deaths while in police custody; abuse of the Greek ethnic minority in the country and the torture of children.

According to the report, the "Teror le Mucadele Subesi" (anti-terrorist branch of the Turkish interior ministry) is responsible for torture and mistreatment of detainees.

"Turkey's anti-terror police have become infamous both within the country and outside of Turkey for the widespread use of such practices against detainees accused of political crimes, both violent and non-violent," the report states.

It added that "criminal suspects also face the prospect of torture and mistreatment at the hands of the regular police."

"The Council of Europe's committee for the Prevention of Torture (CTP) stated that the maltreatment of seven suspects at the Anti-Terror Branch of the Istanbul Police headquarters must rank among the most flagrant examples of torture encountered by CTP delegations in Turkey," the report read.

It added that the extent of the problem is such that "certain departments within the Interior Ministry were becoming a 'State within a State'."

The report also condemned Turkey for its forced displacement of two million people from its southeastern provinces, subsequently failing to aid them resettle properly.

"Some 2,685 villages and hamlets in Turkey's southeastern provinces have been completely or partially depopulated since fighting broke out in the region in August 1984 between government forces and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)," the report said.

It added that the move intended to "deprive the PKK of logistical support," while in its efforts to root-out PKK sympathisers death-squads killed 2,000 civilians.

HRW also compiled a special report on the state control of females' virginity in Turkey, citing several separate incidents in "the spring of 1992, when young females committed suicide after authorities ordered them to submit to examinations of their hymens."

In terms of Greece, the report stated that human rights abuses in the country focus on "migrants and ethinc minorities", but added that the PASOK government took "some positive steps" since it was elected in 1996.

According to the report, the Greek government has taken steps to legalise the presence of "an estimated 500,000 illegal Albanian migrants" and to increase infrastructure investments in regions of Thrace populated by Moslems.

Finally, the report said that last February "Prime Minister Simitis openly acknowledged the problem of racism in Greece, a first for a Greek prime minister."

Gov't unveils new police unit as measure against bank robberies

The government announced the creation of a squad of specially trained police officers to deal with a recent epidemic of bank robberies

Speaking to cadets at the police academy on Saturday, Public Order Minister Philipos Petsalnikos said 250 police officers would be trained specifically in guarding banks and quickly tracking down robbers.

The new squad will be equipped with 100 motorcycles, some unmarked, he said.

He also told the audience that a police helicopter will patrol Attica skies during banking hours, with a police officer on duty in the helicopter expected to coordinate ground chases of bank robbers.

Special training in disarming and shooting at robbers without harming civilians is also on the agenda of the squad's training. The police hotline will provide more lines to enable prompt communication between services.

Mr. Petsalnikos took office last month in a government mini reshuffle, replacing George Romeos at the helm of a ministry besieged by charges of corruption and ineptitude in police ranks.

Bank robberies have became an almost daily occurrence in Greece, with many smaller bank branches targetted by robbers, most of whom make quick getaways, usually on high-power motorbikes, before police arrive.

Archdiocese of America calls for US support of Patriarchate

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America on Saturday addressed a letter to US President Bill Clinton calling for Washington's solidarity towards the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well as respect of human and religious rights by the Turkish government.

"...We ask you to act decisively in support of freedom, basic human rights and free religious expression. We ask you to courageously defend the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople's rights..." the letter, signed by Archbishop of America Spyridon among others, reads.

Christodoulos touches on Church's role towards EMU

Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos on Saturday spoke on the Church's role in Greece's efforts to enter Economic Monetary Union (EMU).

Speaking in Kilkis prefecture, Christodoulos said it would be a mistake to underestimate the spiritual element of the course towards the EMU, "since economic problems cannot be solved without the existence of honest people."

He noted that at the base of every economic programme there lies the human element, adding that attention must be paid "so as to have cultured persons, " otherwise society is transformed into a field of exploitation.

Greek first division soccer results

PAOK Thessaloniki-Panelfsiniakos 3-1 Panionios Athens-Paniliakos Pyrgos 5- 2 Iraklis Thessaloniki-Ethnikos Piraeus 5-0 Ionikos-Apollon Athens 3-0 Proodeftiki-OFI Iraklion 0-1 Ethnikos Asteras-Veria 4-0 Olympiakos Piraeus-Kavala 4-1 AEK Athens-Aris Thessaloniki 6-0 Monday: Xanthi vs Panathinaikos

Standings: AEK 26, Panathinaikos, Olympiakos 25, Xanthi 20, Aris, PAOK 17, Panionios, OFI, Ionikos, Ethnikos Asteras, Paniliakos 16.

The Greek Soccer Federation (EPO) stripped three points from PAOK for crowd trouble in an interrupted match with Olympiakos, awarding the match to Olympiakos with a 2-0 score. The actual score at time of interruption was 2- 1 in favour of Olympiakos.


Rainy weather and storms are forecast in eastern Greece today easing later in the day. Cloudy in the rest of the country likely to turn into rain in the evening, especially in the west. Winds variable, moderate to strong. Sunny with scattered cloud in Athens and temperatures ranging from 10-16C. Overcast in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 7C to 12C.


Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 283.345 British pound 469.117 Japanese yen (100) 231.265 French franc 49.650 German mark 166.458 Italian lira (100) 16.814 Irish Punt 414.061 Belgian franc 8.070 Finnish mark 54.768 Dutch guilder 147.684 Danish kr. 43.793 Austrian sch. 23.660 Spanish peseta 1.956 Swedish kr. 34.899 Norwegian kr. 37.849 Swiss franc 201.996 Port. Escudo 1.623 Aus. dollar 179.671 Can. dollar 184.532 Cyprus pound 563.456


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