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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 99-03-16

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From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>

Today's ERA News Online

Tuesday, 16th March, 1999


  • [01] European Commission resigns
  • [02] Deliberations in view of PASOK party congress
  • [03] Messages on Cyprus issue by Cypriot president and Canadian PM
  • [04] Alternate foreign minister's interview with Cyprus Radio
  • [05] Opposition leader continues visit to USA
  • [06] Archbishop of Athens meets Vatican official
  • [07] Supreme Court hearings on recourse of German state

  • [01] European Commission resigns

    European Commission president Jacques Santer today announced the unanimous decision by Commission members to submit their resignations, following the report of an experts' committee which holds the entire Commission responsible for the way the charges on fraud, favoritism and ill management were dealt with.

    As far as the commissioners' personal responsibilities are concerned, French commissioner Edith Cresson is facing the heaviest charges of fraud regarding her involvement in the EU programme "Leonardo" and for favoritism concerning the hiring of personnel in the services for which she was responsible.

    Facing lesser charges of irregularities and favoritism are president of the European Commission Jacques Santer, Spanish commissioner Manuel Marin, Italian commissioner Emma Bonino, German commissioner Monika Wulf-Mathies, Finnish commissioner Erkki Liikanen and Portuguese commissioner Joao de Deus Pinheiro.

    There are no charges against Greek commissioner Christos Papoutsis. The committee referred to serious problems in tourism services, but Mr Papoutsis was not a commissioner at the time.

    Members of the European parliament today welcomed the decision by the European Commission members to resign and called on the EU leaders to convene an extraordinary summit so as to appoint a new executive organ.

    According to a BBC broadcast--quoting an announcement by the British government--Britain plans to request the re-appointment of the two British commissioners, since there is not enough evidence proving their involvement.

    The unprecedented resignation of the European Commission might trigger off a political crisis in the EU, a few days away from the EU summit on economic reforms in view of EU enlargement to eastern Europe.

    [02] Deliberations in view of PASOK party congress

    Deliberations in the ruling PASOK party are escalating in view of the party congress, which starts on Thursday.

    Secretary of PASOK's Central Committee Kostas Skandalidis described the forthcoming congress as critical for the country's political stability and the course of national issues, adding that he was optimistic the sessions of the congress would pave the way for the party's unity aiming at an overwhelming victory in the Euro-elections. He also said that a representative Central Committee would be elected and criticized party dissidents who questioned the legality of the congress.

    In the meantime, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that all members could express their views freely, referring to the statements made by national defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos who said that a serious drop in PASOK's percentage of votes in the Euro-elections would lead to a crisis within the party.

    [03] Messages on Cyprus issue by Cypriot president and Canadian PM

    Messages on the Cyprus issue were sent to the Committee of Solidarity with Cyprus on the occasion of its annual General Assembly by President of the Cyprus Republic Glafkos Kliridis and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

    In his message, Mr Kliridis recognized the long lasting struggle of the organization on behalf of Cyprus, stressing it was the international community's duty to find ways to convince the Turkish side to participate in negotiations for a solution that would reunite the island within the framework of UN resolutions.

    The Canadian Prime Minister, who praised the Cypriot government's decision not to install the Russian-made S-300 missiles on the island, stressed that the decision has de-escalated tension in the region and has created new prospects for a just and viable settlement of the Cyprus dispute.

    [04] Alternate foreign minister's interview with Cyprus Radio

    In an interview with Cyprus State Radio, Greek alternate foreign minister Yannos Kranidiotis said that the cost for Greek and Cypriot foreign policy from the Ocalan case was small, adding that it was Turkey which would face problems due to the Ocalan affair.

    Mr Kranidiotis backed the policy of the Greek government on the Kurdish issue, but stressed that Greece should not focus its foreign policy on the Kurdish issue or deviate from its own priorities.

    Mr Kranidiotis also stressed that Greece should insist on its efforts for Cyprus' admission into the EU and Greece's entry into European Economic and Monetary Union.

    [05] Opposition leader continues visit to USA

    Speaking yesterday at Fletcher's Law and Diplomacy School in Boston, opposition New Democracy party leader Kostas Karamanlis, who is paying an official visit to the USA, said that there was adequate ground for a settlement of Greece's differences with Turkey, on condition that Ankara would respect international treaties and stop violence and territorial claims.

    Mr Karamanlis returned to Washington last night and is meeting with American Defence Secretary William Cohen this morning.

    [06] Archbishop of Athens meets Vatican official

    Issues concerning the unity of the Churches were the focus of discussion at a meeting yesterday between Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and all Greece and Cardinal Edward Cassidy, chairman of the Vatican Committee responsible for the issue.

    After the meeting, Archbishop Christodoulos said that the Greek church was moving in that direction and that existing theological problems could be overcome.

    Earlier, the Archbishop had a meeting with a group of reporters from Syria in view of his official visit to the Antioch Orthodox Patriarchate after Easter.

    [07] Supreme Court hearings on recourse of German state

    The Supreme Court has heard a recourse from the German state to reverse a ruling by the Livadia Court of first instance which had granted to 220 inhabitants of Distomo the sum of 9.5 billion drachmas in compensation for the martyrs' death suffered by relatives during the German occupation of Greece in 1944.

    Lawyer Petros Kakalis called for the ruling to be reversed saying the German state had the right not to stand trial in a foreign country for actions committed by its officials even if these ran counter to International Law.

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