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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-07-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 12/07/1999 (ANA)


  • PASOK central committee approves Simitis-executive bureau report
  • Chernobyl-like danger of proposed N-plant in SE Turkey
  • Mitsotakis urges patience on presidential issue
  • Demonstrators block border post, attempt to enter Thessaloniki port
  • Cohen expected for talks tomorrow
  • Fischer in Athens today
  • Tunisian Defence Minister Ben Yehia in Athens today
  • Poll: Vast majority favours deportation for illegals
  • More border guards for eastern Macedonia, Thrace
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


PASOK central committee approves Simitis-executive bureau report

Prime Minister Costas Simitis referred to ruling PASOK's "front" against main opposition New Democracy and what he called the "forces of conservatism", during his concluding address at a central committee session on Saturday.

He noted that the "front remains open and will continue being the focus" of PASOK's strategy.

Mr. Simitis also expressed confidence that despite a disappointing performance in last month's Euroelections, PASOK was in a position to win next year's national elections.

He conceded that as prime minister and leader of the party he bore full responsibility for the poor electoral result, but "responsibility also belongs to all of us and each one separately".

He further admitted there were problems in certain aspects of government policy, particularly regarding citizens' everyday problems and the weaker social groups. Responding to charges during Friday's session by former foreign minister Yiannis Kapsis that corruption was rampant in the public sector, and that the party would do well to undertake a crusade on the issue, the prime minister said PASOK had done a great deal in the direction of limiting corruption, and called on Mr. Kapsis to submit any evidence he had to a prosecutor.

On his part, PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said changes were necessary in the party.

"If we do not change now, we create negative conditions for the next electoral contest," he said.

Regarding the issue of ideological identity, as posed by certain members, he said the debate was painful and the past stereotypes of "Left and Right" should be avoided.

The central committee approved with an overwhelming majority the text of conclusions submitted by the prime minister and the executive bureau regarding the Euroelections result and the restructuring of the party.

Observers considered that the large majority was secured after the delivery of a strong appeal for unity by National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, who also proposed the holding of a special conference on the party's ideological identity in January 2000. The proposal was endorsed and incorporated in the text of conclusions.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos appeared to steer a middle course between the two main critical trends regarding ways to boost the party's electoral following, saying this required both more work and changes in policy.

Chernobyl-like danger of proposed N-plant in SE Turkey

Turkey's plans for a nuclear reactor at the Akkuyu site on the SE Anatolia coast posed a hazard for Greece and the wider Mediterranean region, speakers at a two-day conference on Rhodes stressed over the weekend.

Several speakers pointed to a multitude of factors that make the plan more than risky, including the fact that it would be located in a seismically active region, while nuclear waste would find its way into the Mediterranean and Aegean seas.

"The Aegean and the Mediterranean will be systematically used as a means of transporting nuclear waste from the projected plant, increasing the risks," Canadian anti-nuclear activist David Martin, from the group Nuclear Awareness Project, stated.

Vassilis Papazahos, a professor of seismology at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, underlined that seismic activity in SE Turkey did not leave much room for the construction of a nuclear plant.

"If all the preventative measures are taken to protect against possible earthquakes, then the cost of the construction of the nuclear plant does not make it viable," he said. Turkey wants to build a 1,066MW nuclear power plant by the year 2010 to help meet electricity shortfalls, part of an ambitious project to quadruple its annual generating capacity to 350 billion kilowatt hours by that same year.

The Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) firm is bidding to build two out-dated 770MW "Candu 6" nuclear reactors at Akkuyu Bay, located on Turkey's SE Mediterranean coast, directly north of Cyprus. Two other multinationals are vying with AECL for the 100 per cent financed contract - the French-German consortium Nuclear Power International (NPI) and a consortium between US- based Westinghouse and Japan's Mitsubishi.

AECL is considered the front-runner in the bidding.

Nuclear Awareness Project is a Canadian environmental group opposed to the Canadian firms' involvement in the project and has begun gathering signatures in protest.

Bilge Kontebe, representing the Turkish Freedom and Solidarity Party, said that Turkish activists and movements opposed to the Akkuyu plant were coming under pressure from the government over their activities.

"We are being pressured in an attempt to silence our voices," he said. He noted that residents of Akkuyu had recently voted out their mayor, who had been in favour of the plant, and brought in a politician who was opposed.

A researcher at the Athens-based Demokritos Research Centre, Andreas Theofilou, referred to the powerful position of the military in Turkey which, as he said, concealed the prospect of the development of nuclear weapons via the nuclear plant.

Finally, plutonium produced by the proposed plant could be used to manufacture some 50 Nagasaki-type nuclear bombs, as Turkish scientists with experience from their tenure in Pakistan would be called on to work on such a project, he emphasised.

Mitsotakis urges patience on presidential issue

Main opposition New Democracy honourary president and former PM Constantine Mitsotakis stressed over the weekend that the issue of the March presidential election is a political problem to be resolved at its proper time.

Speaking from Crete on Saturday and in response to calls by local residents to vie for the post, Mr. Mitsotakis told reporters that the issue "is not a personal problem of mine. I want to clarify this once and for all. It is a political problem which will be resolved at its proper time. I have exhausted what I wanted to say and I have nothing more to say."

He also referred to Greek-Turkish relations when asked to comment on the twinning of the Cretan community of Milatos with the township of Miletus on the coast of Asia Minor.

"I agree with the initiative taken by Milatos and I congratulate them for the effort they are making. The improvement in the climate of Greek-Turkish relations is a valuable contribution to the effort for peaceful co- existence between the two peoples and I also believe that the moment is suitable for an effort to be made to imrove Greek-Turkish relations, despite the phenomena.

"And, of course, Greek-Turkish relations must be accompanied by a just solution to the Cyprus issue, which has become prolonged, to enable them to move decisively for the better. In this sense, my wishes accompany your mission to Turkey and I hope your example will find others who will follow suit," he said.

Demonstrators block border post, attempt to enter Thessaloniki port

About 2,000 supporters of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and its youth wing (KNE) blocked the Evzoni border post on the Greek-FYROM border late Saturday to protest against NATO involvement in the Balkans.

Protesters entered a neutral zone between the two countries before pulling down and burning a European Union flag.

The protest lasted for about an hour, during which customs officials diverted traffic to other roads.

In later action, some 2,000 KKE-affiliated protesters gathered outside Gate 12 of Thessaloniki's port for a symbolic blockade that turned violent when they attempted to break into the port facilities from Gate 11, police reported.

According to reports, riot police responded with tear gas, while protesters hurled rocks and plastic water bottles. The demonstrators finally dispersed into nearby side-streets.

Authorities also reported 10 minor injuries among the crowd of protesters. The rally began at the city's White Tower.

Thessaloniki's port and its Macedonia Airport have been used as a major transit point for NATO troops heading to FYROM and the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo.

Cohen expected for talks tomorrow

US Defense Secretary William Cohen arrives in Athens tomorrow for two days of talks centering on various defence-related issues and Greek-Turkish relations.

Mr. Cohen will meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis as well as the foreign and defence ministers.

Also on the agenda are multipartite cooperation in Kosovo and southeastern Europe.

Fischer in Athens today

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is due in Athens today for talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and other government officials.

Mr. Fischer is due to meet with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou and Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.

On the agenda of the talks are the reconstruction of the Balkans, European Union relations with Turkey and the Cyprus issue.

Tunisian Defence Minister Ben Yehia in Athens today

Tunisian Defence Minister Habib Ben Yehia arrives in Greece today to begin an official visit at the invitation of Greek counterpart, Akis Tsohatzopoulos. Mr. Ben Yehia and Mr. Tsohatzopoulos are scheduled to have talks at the defence ministry.

Tomorrow, the Tunisian minister will meet with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

Poll: Vast majority favours deportation for illegals

The majority of Greek citizens wholeheartedly approve of the practice of deporting illegal immigrants, according to an opinion poll published yesterday in the "Sunday Ethnos".

According to the poll, some 89.5 per cent said they favoured deportation, with 76.5 per cent saying they believed the majority of criminals in Greece were Albanian.

Some 79. 2 per cent said they believed more foot patrols by police would curb crime.

Slightly more than half (59.4 per cent) said they believed introducing a "green card" for foreign nationals to work legally in Greece was a positive measure, while 34.9 per cent believed it was to the detriment of Greek citizens.

The most important issue facing Greece, according to 23.4 per cent of respondents, was the economy, followed by crime (22.8 per cent).

Unemployment was the most serious issue for 21.5 per cent, national and foreign policy issues for 16.7 per cent, education for 3.5 per cent and health for 1.3 per cent.

More border guards for eastern Macedonia, Thrace

The government will hire another 700 border guards for the region of eastern Macedonia and Thrace by the end of the year, a public order ministry official said yesterday. The official said the new border guards would patrol the frontier with Turkey and Bulgaria.

According to sources, 400 guards will be posted to the Evros region, 100 in the Rodopi prefecture, 60 in the Xanthi region and 120 in Drama.

Evros is the main transit post for thousands of Asian illegal immigrants who enter the country with the help of Turkish smugglers.


The forecast for Monday is scattered cloud in Macedonia and Thrace with local rain in the afternoon. The rest of the country will be fine will cloud increasing in the afternoon. Winds will be northerly, moderate to strong and in the Aegean very strong. Temperatures will range from 19-37C on the mainland and 22-35 on the islands. Athens will be fine with moderate to strong northerlies, 23-36. Thessaloniki will be cloudy with a chance of rain, 21-34.


Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          316.775
Pound sterling       491.695
Japanese yen (100)   258.585
French franc          49.202
German mark          165.018
Italian lira (100)    16.669
Irish Punt           409.804
Belgian franc          8.001
Finnish mark          54.282
Dutch guilder        146.456
Danish kr.            43.410
Austrian sch.         23.455
Spanish peseta         1.939
Swedish kr.           37.031
Norwegian kr.         39.779
Swiss franc          200.959
Port. Escudo           1.610
Can. dollar          215.264
Aus. dollar          210.765
Cyprus pound         560.778
Euro                 322.747
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