Athens, 16/05/1995 (ANA):
A strong earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale struck north-western Greece at 7:14 am yesterday, originating from the same area as Saturday's 6.6 Richter quake that struck the farm town of Kozani.
The epicentre of the quakes was in the Siatista region, 125 kilometres west of Thessaloniki and some 300 kilometres northwest of Athens, between the towns of Kozani and Grevena. Hundreds of aftershocks of up to 5.0 Richter have been recorded since Saturday's quake, which levelled dozens of buildings and caused damage to hundreds of others. Local residents have been spending the nights in cars and military tents set up around the affected villages.
Kyriakos Peftitselis of the Geophysics Laboratory at Thessaloniki's Aristotelian University told the ANA that more than a thousand aftershocks have been recorded, of which at least 100 have been of an intensity of 4.0 Richter or above, including a 4.7 Richter and a 4.8 Richter quake early Sunday.
Aristotelian University Professor Vassilis Papazachos said yesterday's quake was an aftershock of Saturday's earthquake. He said seismologists had been expecting an aftershock the magnitude of yesterday's quake since, according to statistics, the strongest aftershock usually has an average intensity of an 1.2 degrees less than the main quake, although this did not necessarily occur after every large earthquake.
Seismologists believe the post-quake activity may continue for up to two months, and warned residents not to enter buildings that have not been previously cleared by engineers as safe. Saturday's earthquake wrecked about 1,000 homes and left some 1,800 people homeless.
Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou requested the immediate mobilisation of the government to deal with the problems in the earthquake-stricken region of the Kozani and Grevena. A ministerial conference was held yesterday to discuss temporary and permanent housing for the homeless.
After the conference, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Alternate Minister Costas Geitonas said the government would soon announce the measures for the homeless and called on the European Union to finance the programmes. The measures will include low-interest loans, subsidies, and suspension of debt payments. The meeting also decided to establish a 200 million drachmas line of credit for the two quake-stricken prefectures and organise camps for the temporary housing of the homeless.
Meanwhile, the main opposition New Democracy party called on the government to begin assessing the damage as soon as possible. Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras said that "if the state responds to the agony of the people, Political Spring will applaud."
Coalition of the Left and Progress President Nikos Constantopoulos said the needs of the homeless should be immediately dealt with. Archbishop Serapheim of Athens and All Greece has allocated the amount of five million drachmas for the Kozani and Grevena homeless while Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America has sent $US 5,000 and pledged more to the affected regions.
A Culture Ministry delegation is set to visit the region in order to examine and assess the damage caused by the earthquake and aftershocks to monuments and archaeological sites.
Lisbon, 16/05/1995 (ANA/Reuter):
National Defence Minister Gerasimos Arsenis said yesterday that Greece was very satisfied with the decision by the Western European Union to begin dialogue with Cyprus and Malta, with a view to the island-republics becoming associated members.
He also said Greece would participate in a new Western European Union task force that would operate in the Mediterranean. Italy, Spain, Portugal and France agreed to make available two new joint task forces for WEU operations, signing the agreement before the official opening of the Western European Union summit here yesterday, in which Greece is participating in for the first time as a full member. Greece is represented by Mr. Arsenis and European Affairs Minister George Mangakis.
Mr. Mangakis said Turkish Foreign Minister Erdal Inonu had raised an objection to the WEU's decision on Cyprus and Malta, included as a note in the final communique, questioning the international legal personality of the Republic of Cyprus as representative of the whole island. This lacked seriousness, he said, as Cyprus is a member of a number of international organisations, such as the United Nations and the British Commonwealth, is recognised by the WEU and the European Union, and is on course to membership of the latter.
Concerning the Yugoslav issue, Mr. Mangakis said the conference had been briefed on Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias' mediatory initiative, involving meetings with his Bosnian and Iranian counterparts in Athens and Tehran. "We briefed the conference that, indeed, an effort at finding a solution which is viable and permanent, and secures peace, cannot ignore the role of (Serbian President Slobodan) Milosevic and Serbia, and that, therefore, it was in that direction that we had to work.
Greece is working in that direction, to bring the three warring sides in the former Yugoslavia into contact, so that with one proposal, with the idea of gradual progress, peace will be finally secured, and the horrible tragedy will come to an end," he said.
The agreement signed between Italy, Spain, Portugal and France will make available some 10,000-12,000 troops for WEU activities. The light-armoured division, Eurofor, will have its headquarters in Florence, Italy, but the troops will remain with national armies until they are required. Naval units from the same countries will also be made available in a second force known as Euromarfor.
"We have already declared and reiterated today that Greece is interested in participating in this force in the Mediterranean and, as you know, this agreement is open to all member-states of the WEU. Therefore, Greece in the future will participate in this force," Mr. Arsenis told Greek reporters. He said the agreement was a form of collective action within the framework of the WEU for the security of the wider Mediterranean region.
Washington, 16/05/1995 (ANA/D. Dimas):
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert held one-hour talks with US Defence Secretary William Perry and Assistant Defence Secretary Joseph Nye at the Pentagon yesterday.
Speaking to Greek reporters afterwards, Mr. Evert said his talks with the defence officials were "very constructive, useful and were held in a very good climate." "Greek positions on security and peace in the Balkans were accepted favourably, at least at an initial stage, and I believe that American diplomacy and the Pentagon will discuss the proposal we put to them in a very serious and methodical manner," he added.
Mr. Evert said "we also discussed relations between Greece and Turkey. It is a given fact that all sides, but Turkey in particular, should end existing tension."
Replying to questioners, Mr. Evert said he was not briefed on the meeting Mr. Perry previously held with his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), adding that he was not pressured on the lifting of Greek retortion measures against FYROM. "We do not accept pressure from anyone. We are prepared to discuss with all," he added.
Shortly before 11 pm Greek time, Mr. Evert was due to meet US Vice-President Al Gore for about half an hour and immediately afterwards with the State Department's political leadership, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Assistant Secretary of State Strobe Talbot.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Evert had held a one-hour working breakfast with Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Richard Holbrooke at a downtown Washington hotel. "We covered the world. Mr. Evert explained his view on Bosnia to me and what is more important, we discussed how important close relations between the US and Greece are. We discussed Cyprus, Skopje (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), but I will not go into details," Mr. Holbrooke said afterwards.
Athens, 16/05/1995 (ANA):
Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou will meet with NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes in Athens this evening, government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos announced yesterday. He said the talks would centre on the operation of the Alliance's western flank and did not rule out discussion on the establishment of NATO bases in Greece.
Meanwhile, in Lisbon, where he is attending the WEU meeting, National Defence Minister Gerasimos Arsenis said Greece would "listen carefully to everything Mr. Claes has to say". "On our side," Mr. Arsenis said, "I can only reiterate what I have already said at Nato's Ministerial Conference, that the unanimous decisions of ministerial conferences should be applied and that Turkey must be convinced to lift its veto."
Asked whether Greece would be willing to modify its position on the issue, Mr. Arsenis said that "it should be made understood to all that this is not a Greek-Turkish issue, but one that concerns NATO and Turkey."
Last month Ankara objected to the establishment of NATO headquarters in Greece saying it would only agree to the establishment of a NATO rapid deployment force headquarters in Thessaloniki and the activation of a NATO headquarters in Larissa if three conditions were satisfied: that Greece relinquish its right to extend its territorial waters in the Aegean from six to twelve miles, that the first rotating commander in Thessaloniki be Turkish and that the land and air force headquarters in Larissa be set up simultaneously.
Athens said the issue was not a Greek-Turkish dispute but a matter between the Alliance and Turkey.
Athens, 16/05/1995 (ANA):
An agreement was reached in principle at the office of Under-Secretary to the Prime Minister's Office Antonis Livanis yesterday on tabling a bill in Parliament on restructuring the National Health System (ESY). The meeting was attended by Health Minister Dimitrios Kremastinos, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos, Minister to the Prime Minister's Office Ioannis Pottakis and ruling socialist PASOK party Central Committee Secretary Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
Mr. Kremastinos said afterwards the economic ministers assured him that 121 billion drachmas necessary for changes in the health system, as anticipated by the Health Ministry's bill expected to be tabled in Parliament in autumn, would be found. He said he had already made his proposals to the economic ministers on ways of finding funds necessary to reshape ESY and let it be understood that decisions would be taken on the issue by Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Papantoniou.
Also present at the meeting was Welfare Under-Secretary Manolis Skoulakis who told reporters a new bill on the functioning of old people's homes had already been approved and was expected to be tabled in Parliament today. According to reports, the bill anticipates fines ranging between one and ten million drachmas for owners breaking the law and the closure of old people's homes failing to meet terms of operation set out by the new settlements.
Athens, 16/05/1995 (ANA):
Two United Nations envoys arrived in Athens yesterday for talks with the Greek government on efforts to jump-start UN-sponsored negotiations for a settlement to the Cyprus problem. "We are back for some preliminary discussions to see whether there is reason to encourage the two leaders (in Cyprus) to come together for face-to-face talks," UN special envoy for the Cyprus issue Joe Clark said. He made the statement after talks with Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias. He is accompanied by Gustave Feissel, the UN Secretary-General's special representative.
Mr. Clark said his talks with Mr. Papoulias had been satisfactory and that there had been interesting developments on the problem since last year. One of them, Mr. Clark said, was the decision by the European Union to start membership talks with Cyprus six months after the 1996 intergovernmental conference.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 following the Turkish invasion. In 1983, the island's Turkish Cypriot minority declared an autonomous state in the north. It is recognised only by Turkey which maintains over 35,000 troops there. UN efforts to re-unite the island under a bi-communal, bi-zonal federal system have so far failed.
Permanent Security Council members Britain and the United States have recently taken a keen interest in facilitating a solution to the 21-year-old Cyprus problem. Last month, days after Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was re-elected as "president" of the occupation regime, a US envoy visited the Mediterranean island to convey Washington's desire to re-invigorate UN-led efforts to resolve the Cyprus dispute.
The Cyprus News Agency reported that British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd might bring up the issue with US Secretary of State Warren Christopher during his forthcoming visit to the US. Commenting on US and British efforts, Mr. Clark said: "We have always taken the view that it is very helpful for us to have all the help we can get from our friends. If there are discussions that make clear as to where some agreement may be found between the two leaders, then that is great help to us".
The two envoys are scheduled for talks in Ankara today. They will continue to Cyprus for meetings with the island's president Glafcos Clerides and Mr. Denktash.
Jerusalem, 16/05/1995 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas):
"Every man of conscience is opposed to the persecution of the Jews, as to the persecution of any man, irrespective of faith or ideology," Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos said after his unscheduled laying of a wreath at the Monument of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem, yesterday.
On the last day of his visit, the Patriarch met with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and President Ezer Weizman and discussed the maintenance of the existing balance between the three major religions -- Jewish, Christian and Moslem -- in Jerusalem. "They both promised to respect the regime governing pilgrimage to the Holy City of Jerusalem, as well as the rights and privileges which the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has acquired through the centuries," he said.
He added that he had congratulated the Israeli leadership on the "progress recorded in the efforts towards peace, and wished that it be completed as soon as possible".
Sources said the planned expropriation of land in East Jerusalem is causing particular concern to the Orthodox community, as it includes large areas belonging to the Patriarchate. The community includes many Palestinians.
Athens, 16/05/1995 (ANA):
Returning from a three-day visit to Germany yesterday, Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos said the Greek community there faced extremely serious problems. "There must be specific policies in answer to these problems," he said, citing education, unemployment, and the exercise of the right to vote as the most prominent ones.
Athens, 16/05/1995 (ANA):
More than 300 scientists from 40 countries opened a week-long conference in Halkidiki, near Thessaloniki, yesterday to discuss the unprecedented levels of ozone de-pletion. The conference, under the auspices of Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos, entitled "Ozone in the Lower Stratosphere", is jointly organised by the European Commission, NASA (the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration), WMO (the World Meteorological Organisation), the International Ozone Commission and the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki.
According to the organisers, the objective of the conference, which will run through Friday, is to provide an international forum for the exchange of current ideas and scientific results on the ozone and solar ultraviolet radiation issues. The focus will be the study of ozone depletion, particularly in the lower stratosphere where 70 per cent of the existing ozone is concentrated, in both hemispheres.
Ten years after the discovery of the 'ozone hole' over Antarctica, the accumulated knowledge of the state of the ozone layer, including the important recent results concerning ozone depletion in the Arctic region, will be reported at the conference in Halkidiki, the birthplace of the first natural and environmental philosopher, Aristotle.
Conference sources said the emphasis of the meeting, which will also be attended by government ministers and other officials, is on the interpretation of key uncertainties which emerged from the first and second European stratospheric experiments as well as from those conducted by the US and international groupings.
One of the main subjects for discussion will be the recent results on very large losses inside the vortex reported by field campaigns, the Global Ozone Observing System, and space-based monitoring instruments. Other topics will include ozone trends, its transport and chemistry, and its relation to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and climate.
Athens, 16/05/1995 (ANA):
In a joint press conference yesterday, Industry Minister Costas Simitis and employer and trade union representatives presented the blueprint for a new industrial strategy, based on a tripartite consensus among government, workers and industry.
Mr. Simitis said the blueprint embodied a kind of 'social contract' for industry and economic competitiveness, and signified a common perception among social partners that, despite disagreements on short-term issues, there is confluence of views on those concerning the role of competitiveness, technology, investment, quality in production and social justice.
Further, it included an agreement for promoting action through medium term measures in key aspects, such as the size of firms, the importance of strategy, the role of trade, the transfer of technology, and the creation of networks of firms.
Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Jason Stratos welcomed the search for an industrial policy based on consensus, and argued that the development of industry provided the only healthy basis on which the convergence of Greek industry with that in the rest of Europe could be based. "We hope that this effort will not be annulled by future changes, rather, that it will be consolidated, enriching and adjusting the elements of industrial policy to new realities," he said.
General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Protopapas spoke of the need for faster growth rates with a simultaneous boost in employment.
Athens, 16/05/1995 (ANA):
Greek exports to Russia have shown sharp fluctuations since 1988, a one-day conference on trade relations between the two countries in Thessaloniki was told yesterday. The conference, organised by the city's Bar Association, was attended by about 100 Muscovite lawyers, headed by Justice Under-Secretary of the Russian Federation Anatoli Stepanov, and CIS Bar Association president Nikolai Klion. The Russian lawyers showed interest in obtaining advice from their Greek counterparts on rules and conditions in a free market system, being concerned about a recent invasion of foreign law firms in Russia, providing services to foreign investors and businessmen.
While in 1988 Greek exports to the-then Soviet Union amounted to $87 million, and imports to $443 million, the ratio fell to 1:50 in 1991, showing improvement thereafter, and reaching 1:9 two years later, with exports amounting to $42 million, and imports $370 million. The market share of Greek products in Russia represents 1.37 per cent of total European Union exports.
Attending National Economy Under-Secretary Ioannis Anthopoulos said the most serious problems facing Greek businessmen arose from the lack of a permanent taxation system, and generally conditions favouring entrepreneurial activity. Efforts should be directed towards permanent economic co-operative schemes in the form of joint ventures, he said. It was announced that incentives in the form of reduced tax rates were being introduced in Russia for the first time, while further reductions were to be instituted next year.