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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-01-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 18/01/1999 (ANA)


  • No-confidence against Arsenis fails, education crisis continues
  • School occupations continue
  • Latest Turkish dispute over FIR indicative of Ankara's designs
  • Finnish premier begins talks in Athens
  • Tzoganis for talks in Georgia
  • Albanian minister cites W. European prejudices against Balkans
  • Bosnia to participate in Balkan Games
  • Successful Europarliament petition on Parthenon Marbles
  • Papantoniou: Benefits from economic policy to be felt shortly
  • Onassis Foundation on latest court ruling in battle with Roussel
  • Tsovolas warns over permanent division on Cyprus
  • Greek First Division soccer results
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


No-confidence against Arsenis fails, education crisis continues

Parliament dismissed a vote of no-confidence against Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis by a margin of 36 votes early Sunday morning after an often torrid three-day debate.

A total of 163 MPs voted down the censure motion -161 MPs from ruling PASOK and two independent deputies, Vassilis Kontoyiannopoulos and Stephanos Manos) - compared to 127 MPs who voted to support the motion - 95 ND MPs, 10 from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), and eight each from Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) along with six independent deputies.

The debate and latenight vote came one day after students and teachers held mass rallies and marches in towns and cities around Greece, several of which were marred by violence, mainly by masked self-described anarchists.

Speaking after the more-or-less expected vote, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said nothing could divert the government's course, fulfilling its mandate. He also stressed that in the year 2000 "we will win the next elections."

"We are open to any improvements considered necessary in the course of implementing the education reform," he said in his closing speech to the assembly, before the vote.

Main opposition New Democracy submitted the motion of no confidence late last week, citing the "explosive dimensions" that two-month-long student sit-ins and road blocks were taking.

Pupils have been objecting to sweeping reforms to the structure and grading of secondary education and to entry to tertiary education.

In his address, Mr. Simitis said the ministry's changes were "an integrated and mature proposal" but said the government was "not dogmatic" and had already accepted some adjustments.

However, the premier said, for there to be any sort of productive dialogue, schools must open.

He also again attacked ND for taking a "hypocritical stance" from the beginning on the issue, saying the main opposition had tabled the no- confidence motion against Mr. Arsenis, although ND leader Costas Karamanlis himself had walked out when the education minister addressed Parliament during the debate.

"New Democracy is pursuing an escalation of the crisis. It wants to give the upheaval in education its own stamp of objection, to throw more oil on the fire. Its stance is hypocritical because from the podium of Parliament it says no to the occupations and from schoolyards it says they should go on," Mr. Simitis said.

"It is regrettable that Mr. Karamanlis chose the sector of education, of youth to score short-term and small personal and party points," Mr. Simitis said.

"It is obvious to all that if this government does not stint in its course, by the (national) elections of 2000 it will have achieved all its major goals with the primary one of equal inclusion in the European Union," he said.

On Saturday, Mr. Arsenis called on the Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME) to enter into dialogue on jointly acceptable points of the law regarding the reforms.

Mr. Arsenis invited OLME's administrative board to a meeting at 6 p.m. yesterday.

The minister also expressed satisfaction over statements by OLME President Nikos Tsoulias on Friday night, who agreed that an end should be put to the occupations and schools should re-open.

Mr. Arsenis declined to answer any questions from the press.

However, the teachers' federation OLME on Saturday rejected the call, with Mr. Tsoulias saying Mr. Arsenis' invitation as "a tactical move calculated to complicate the issue."

Student protest committees also reiterated their determination to end occupations and boycotts only if the law was repealed and called another rally to be held in Athens tomorrow.

School occupations continue

Students said more than 800 schools around the country were under occupation, although the figure was disputed by local government authorities, which place the number of schools currently closed at some 500.

The justice ministry put the total cost of damage to school property at more than 1.5 billion drachmas.

Finally, in a development last night, representatives of protesting pupils at the Grava complex in the Galatsi district decided to set up road blocks today in various unnamed intersections in Athens. A mobilisation scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Kanningos was also decided.

Latest Turkish dispute over FIR indicative of Ankara's designs

Government sources responded yesterday that a Turkish foreign ministry spokesman's reported criticism over management of the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) was indicative of Ankara's designs to create yet another dispute in the Aegean.

Greek foreign ministry officials, referring to Turkish spokesman Necmettin Utkan's reported quotes to the semi-official Anadolu news agency regarding the Athens FIR,rocky Aegean islets and threatened tension in the Aegean, stressed that Greece "had no intention of getting involved in a discussion of legal issues through the press."

The sources added that anyone who believes there are problems in the application of international law can take recourse to the international court of justice at The Hague, something repeatedly suggested by Athens and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

The Turkish spokesman claimed that Greece was violating ICAO rules and regulations, and had a distorted perception which gives rise to mistakes and omissions. He also claimed an obstruction of air traffic in the Athens FIR, among others.

Mr. Utkan further said that Greece unilaterally applied new regulations and defined new air-corridors, believing that it is the only party in charge, which as he said, it "had no right to do".

He further referred to the issue of rocky islets in the Aegean, claiming it was unacceptable for Greece to proceed with unilateral steps to alter the status quo in effect for the islets, which he claimed do not belong to Athens.

Finnish premier begins talks in Athens

Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen arrived in Athens yesterday night for a two-day visit expected to focus on European Union issues, developments in the Balkans and eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus as well as the course of EU- Turkey relations.

Mr. Lipponen meets this morning with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and will be received by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos at midday.

He will meet Prime Minister Costas Simitis at around 12:30 p.m. and both men are scheduled to hold a press conference afterwards.

In the evening, he is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.

In an interview with the ANA earlier, Mr. Lipponen said he believed Helsinki and Athens had common interests to defend in the European Union, stemming from their similar geopolitical positions.

Both countries are crucial to the creation of a European gas network, he added, with Greece taking a leading role in utilising energy resources of the Caucasus region, while Finland had a similar role with Russian energy resources.

Finland assumes the rotating EU presidency in the second half of 1999.

Tzoganis for talks in Georgia

Greek military chief Gen. Athanasios Tzoganis began a visit to Georgia yesterday for talks on issues of mutual interest following an invitation by his Georgian counterpart.

Gen. Tzoganis will be received by the Georgian defence and foreign ministers as well as by religious leaders. He will also visit military installations.

He returns to Athens on Jan. 19.

Albanian minister cites W. European prejudices against Balkans

Visiting Albanian Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Edi Rama referred on Saturday to what he called prejudice in western Europe against the Balkan peoples, something perpetuated by the negative tradition of the "Iron Curtain".

Mr. Rama said European integration depended not so much on the attainment of certain economic targets but rather on factors such as freedom and justice.

"Attempts in the past for absolute justice resulted in the disappearance of liberty and eventually of justice itself," Mr. Rama said, addressing a meeting of 50 young politicians up to 35 years of age from countries in SE Europe.

The two-day meeting which began on Friday hopes to help promote a regional development plan for the countries of SE Europe and strengthen ties between the peoples of the region.

Speaking on the subject of "Democracy and the Society of Citizens", Mr. Rama predicted that it would be a long time before the target of a European society of citizens was attained, owing to the individualism which prevails and the "glorification" of money.

"This is where the various conflicts begin, only to be subsequently cloaked in pretexts reminiscent of times gone by," Mr. Rama said.

He also referred to "the tragedy of Kosovo which takes us back to the era of barbarism" and likened Yugoslav demands concerning non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other states with "the arguments used by (late Albanian communist dictator) Enver Hoxha to perpetuate his dictatorship."

Finally, New Democracy Euro-deputy Costas Hadzidakis, who also spoke at the conference, supported the idea of all Balkan nations eventually joining the European Union.

Bosnia to participate in Balkan Games

A Balkan sports ministers' meeting on Rhodes wound up yesterday with participants accepting Athens' proposal for the particiaption of Bosnia in the Balkan Games.

In addition, Sports Deputy Minister Andreas Fouras told Balkan counterparts that the Athens 2004 Olympics Games shouldn't only be a Greek concern, but a Balkan one as well.

"Without ignoring the great difficulties, we believe that the upgrading and modernisation of the Balkan Games are peoples' duty towards peace and traditions..." he said.

Another proposal accepted was made by Athens 2004 organising committee president Stratis Stratigis for the establishment of an ad hoc briefing conference of Olympic organising committees and Black Sea states, meeting twice a year in Thessaloniki.

Successful Europarliament petition on Parthenon Marbles

A delegation of Greek Eurodeputies will brief President Kostis Stephanopoulos today on a petition circulated by Greece's Euro-MPs calling for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.

The petition was signed by some 337 Euro-MPs, more than 50 per cent of the Europarliament.

In a separate development, Eurodeputy and noted singer Nana Mouschouri is sponsoring and inaugurating a photo exhibition tomorrow at the Europarliament in Brussels that promotes the return of the marbles to Greece.

The exhibition was first staged at the Architects' Assosiation in London last May, before being exhibited at several universities and public halls in Britain.

Papantoniou: Benefits from economic policy to be felt shortly

National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou appeared optimistic in a press interview regarding the course of the Greek economy, saying efforts have begun bearing fruit and this will be felt by citizens in the coming period.

In the interview published in yesterday's "Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia", the minister said 1999 will clearly be a better year, promising no new taxes, lower prices and tax reliefs.

However, on the political front, Mr. Papantoniou said he was concerned over the ruling PASOK party's unity, which he sees as a precondition to winning the next election, without however, specifying whether he meant Euroelections or general elections.

Onassis Foundation on latest court ruling in battle with Roussel

The four trustees comprising the board of the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation on Friday released a statement pointing to the overturn of an earlier ruling by a Swiss juvenile authority (Oberengadin) regarding the freezing of bank accounts and safe deposit boxes connected with 14-year-old Onassis fortune heiress Athina Onassis Roussel.

The Onassis Foundation board, pitted in a three-year battle with Thierry Roussel - Athina's father - over management of the vast Onassis fortune, stressed that the Oberengadin authority was immediately ordered to lift the restrictions it had placed, as a Swiss appelate court ruled they were illegal.

However, the four Greek trustees said the Swiss juvenile authority failed to inform banks of the ruling, while another appeal in Swiss courts by the foundation was filed, and with another motion excluding the Oberengadin entirely pending.

Tsovolas warns over permanent division on Cyprus

Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas warned on Saturday that a permanent division of Cyprus, in the form of a confederation, may be effected as a result of the cancelled deployment of the Russian-made S-300 missiles.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a DHKKI event in Thessaloniki focusing on national issues, Mr. Tsovolas said that in case the confederation model is implemented on Cyprus without resistance by both the Greek and Greek Cypriot people, then Ankara will very likely proceed with applying the same formula in the Aegean.

Greek First Division soccer results

Panionios-Ethnikos Asteras 2-0 Olympiakos-Xanthi 3-1 PAOK-Proodeftiki 1-0 AEK-IRAKLIS 2-2 Ionikos-Paniliakos 1-1 Apollon-Ethnikos 4-0 Aris-OFI 3-1 Kavala-Veria 2-1 Saturday:Aris-OFI 3-1 Monday's match: Panelefsiniakos-Panathinakos Standings, points after 15 rounds: Olympiakos 37, AEK 33, PAOK 32, Xanthi 28, Panathinakios (14 matches) 28, Aris 27.


Fair weather with lower temperatures throughout Greece today with local clouds on the east. Winds in the west of the country will be weak, possible showers in the north and east. Fair weather in Athens turning overcast later with local clouds and chances of light rains in the north and east of the prefecture in the afternoon, and temperatures from 4-13C. Thessaloniki will be overcast, with temperatures between 0-9C.


Monday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 276.490 Pound sterling 458.562 Japanese yen (100) 245.550 French franc 49.165 German mark 164.891 Italian lira (100) 16.656 Irish Punt 409.490 Belgian franc 7.995 Finnish mark 54.240 Dutch guilder 146.344 Danish kr. 43.319 Austrian sch. 23.437 Spanish peseta 1.938 Swedish kr. 35.200 Norwegian kr. 36.994 Swiss franc 203.087 Port. Escudo 1.609 Aus. dollar 174.404 Can. dollar 179.949 Cyprus pound 553.060


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