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A.N.A. Bulletin, 06/10/95

From: "Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada" <grnewsca@sympatico.ca>

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No. 708), October 6, 1995

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Premier says growth, jobs and social policy the priorities, economic course 'clear'

  • [2] Reactions

  • [3] FYROM parliament votes overwhelmingly to change flag, premier says he's pleased

  • [4] Mitsotakis lashes out at interim accord

  • [5] ND deputies respond

  • [6] SE European cities must help in efforts for peaceful co-existence, Athens mayor says

  • [7] Greece welcomes Croat-Serb deal

  • [8] Inonu critical of Europarliament's conditions for customs union

  • [9] Greece would consider request to assist peace force in Bosnia, Arsenis says

  • [10] News In Brief

  • [11] New Greek initiative aims to introduce Russian managers to EU know-how

  • [12] China expresses interest in joint ventures, investment in Greece

  • [13] Farmers' groups reject gov't cheaper fuel proposals


  • [1] Premier says growth, jobs and social policy the priorities, economic course 'clear'

    Athens, 06/10/1995 (ANA):

    Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou told his Cabinet yesterday that there was no conflict in the government's social and development policies. Speaking at the second Cabinet meeting since the September 14 reshuffle, held to review developments in major infrastructure projects, the premier stressed there was no need to worry about the course of the Greek economy. "In macro-economic terms, our course is clear and charted (for the entire duration of the government's four-year term in office)," the premier told his ministers.

    The economic targets for the next two years, he said, were "growth and the creation of jobs, and consequently, the exercise of social policy." The rate of growth was already 2.5 to 3.5 per cent, he said, adding that this would enable an improvement of social policy. Describing as "enormous" the government's achievements in the economic sector, Mr. Papandreou said efforts over the last two years to put public finances in order and curb inflation had been "largely attained".

    He noted that annual inflation was now down to 8.4 per cent, compared to 12.5 per cent when the government came to power, and said it would continue to fall. The consistency of the government's economic policy was a fact, he said, "and this is a message to the workers and businessmen whom I call upon to put aside their concern and contribute to the common task."

    Turning to the nature of the government's economic policy, Mr. Papandreou stressed that Greece had undertaken commitments towards the European Union, "but even in the absence of such commitments, the policy could not be different."

    Speaking after the premier, National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou underlined that public investments this year were up by 20 per cent and private investments by 7.5 per cent. Investment in housing increased by only one per cent this year, he said, but contrasted this figure with an annual five per cent drop recorded over the last five years.

    Mr. Papantoniou said that in the first nine months of the year, allocations totaling 950 billion drachmas had been approved from the Public Investment Programme which has a budget of 1,050 billion dra-chmas for 1995. He added that particular emphasis had been placed on the development of Macedonia and Thrace, with 25 per cent of all funds absorbed by or destined for Eastern Macedonia being allocated for infrastructure works and development.

    Environment, Public Works and Town Planning Minister Costas Laliotis said the construction of major works in Greece would facilitate development, change the scenery and bring the country to the 21st century. Mr. Laliotis said three of the major projects were entering their final course: contracts concerning the Rio-Antirrio bridge, the Stavros-Elefsina motorway and the Thessaloniki Metro will be tabled in Parliament for ratification by the end of the year.

    More specifically, the 120-billion-drachma contract for the Rio-Antirrio project will be tabled in Parliament by the end of the month and the contract for the Stavros-Elefsina motorway by the end of December. In addition, the Thessaloniki Metro plan is expected to be sent to the European Investment Bank next week for due consideration. Preliminary work on the new Athens airport at Spata is expected to start in December and the contract will be examined by the European Investment Bank.

    The Public Work Ministry's priorities include the Acheloos River detour, since the tunnel diversion and the Sykia dam projects will be auctioned at the end of the month. Prefectural Councils have already approved a study on environmental repercussions stemming from the project. On the question of major road networks, namely the Egnatia motorway and the Patras-Thessaloniki-Evzonoi motorway, 450 billion drachmas have been secured for the construction of a further 450 kms. The building of 150 kms is already underway while other lengths will be auctioned immediately.

    Industry Minister Anastasios Peponis briefed the Cabinet on the construction of the central natural gas pipeline, saying the flow of gas would begin in the second half of 1996. Transport Minister Evangelos Venizelos referred to the modernization of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE).

    [2] Reactions

    Athens, 06/10/1995 (ANA):

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert said yesterday the cabinet was convened "to confirm the presence of Mr. Papandreou: that he is exercising his duties as is his government." He said the government was falling apart because "ministers say one thing and the others another. And every time there is a problem the cabinet convenes to supposedly discuss development policy and major projects which have been announced five times."

    Mr. Evert said the reality was different and referred to figures provided by the Bank of Greece according to which only 10 per cent of Community funds had been absorbed in the first half of the year, adding that "major projects are stagnant. We have lost 700 billion drachmas which have led the economy to recession." "Serious problems faced by the government and the country were not discussed," he said. "The big problems faced by the Greek people were not tackled today because there is no government."

    In statements later Political Spring spokesman Notis Martakis accused the government of "social insensitivity" and called on the prime minister to consider the people's quality of life.

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress said the injustices and imbalances of economic policy could not be remedied with "verbal gymnastics and vague promises". The announcement added that the question of why the cabinet had convened and what it had decided remained.

    [3] FYROM parliament votes overwhelmingly to change flag, premier says he's pleased

    Athens, 06/10/1995 (ANA):

    Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou expressed his satisfaction at yesterday's decision by the parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to change its flag. At the same time, he said he was pleased with the course of talks between Athens and Skopje on the details of the recently-signed interim accord, the first round of which ended in Athens Wednesday night.

    Mr. Papandreou was speaking during a Cabinet meeting, after being informed of the almost unanimous vote by the FYROM parliament to change the flag, with 110-1 vote in favor and four abstentions. The premier expressed the hope that the current talks between the two countries, scheduled to resume on Tuesday in Skopje, would proceed smoothly and that relations between the two Balkan neighbors would be normalized.

    Earlier in day, the government said it was convinced that the abortive assassination attempt on FYROM President Kiro Gligorov would not affect the stability of the region. The terrorist act, Foreign Ministry spokesman Costas Bikas said, would not "threaten FYROM." Mr. Gligorov was seriously injured when a car bomb exploded as his limousine drove through central Skopje on Tuesday. He later underwent a five-hour operation to remove shrapnel from his head.

    Mr. Bikas said "positive steps had been taken" during the two-day talks in Athens and expressed the hope that the talks "will be completed soon." Greece, he said, "will continue to work for stability and peace in the region, as well as the advancement of economic, political and cultural co-operation among the Balkan states."

    Meanwhile, in Skopje, the daily "Nova Makedonija" said an opinion poll showed 56.33 per cent agreeing with the change of the flag, 26 per cent against and 5.83 per cent not expressing a view. Concerning a possible change of the republic's name, 79.33 per cent of respondents said they were against a change, with 15 per cent in favor and 5.67 expressing no opinion.

    In Brussels, the Socialist Group of the European Parliament sought the promotion of a resolution condemning the assassination attempt against Mr. Gligorov. The European Parliament is due to convene in Strasbourg next week. The resolution expresses fears that "chauvinistic, nationalistic forces in FYROM could proceed with actions that would undermine stability in the region." The Socialist Group's resolution also condemns "any other action that aims at destabilizing the situation in the southern Balkan region."

    [4] Mitsotakis lashes out at interim accord

    Athens, 06/10/1995 (ANA):

    Former New Democracy prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, in an interview published yesterday, described the interim accord signed recently between FYROM and Greece as "the worst solution," and said he did not know whether any hope still existed with respect to the question of the name. If Greece accepted a composite name, "perhaps there is still hope that we will win," Mr. Mitsotakis said in an interview with the respected weekly financial magazine Economikos Tachydromos. He added that Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou had adopted his position on the name issue.

    Mr. Mitsotakis, honorary president of the main opposition New Democracy party, said a realistic solution could be a composite name which, preferably, designated the geographical region, and said he preferred "Northern Macedonia" to "New Macedonia." He said that during his term in office he was unable to accept the so-called Pinheiro package for a solution of the differences between Skopje and Athens because he would lose his parliamentary majority.

    He revealed that: "(My government) would have fallen because it was not only (then foreign minister Antonis) Samaras who was taking an extreme line. There was another group within the party, which included the present president of ND Miltiades Evert, the late Athanasios Kanellopoulos and Stavros Dimas, who would not deign to even discuss a composite name. What I would like to add today is that unfortunately I did not have the assistance of the (then) president of the republic, Constantine Karamanlis, whose help I requested and did not get."

    Mr. Mitsotakis also accused the government of lack of policy on Albania, while the Cyprus issue was at a bad stage "because Turkey continues to be intransigent at a time when its position is upgraded and Greece's has weakened."

    Turning to Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Mitsotakis said there should be a "permanent" dialogue between the two countries, adding that "we should never cut our communications line, even at the worst stage of our relations."

    [5] ND deputies respond

    Athens, 06/10/1995 (ANA):

    ND president Miltiades Evert said he had no comment to make on his predecessor's comments. "Whatever we had to say, was said at the meeting of (the ND) Parliamentary Group (on Tuesday)," he told reporters.

    Mr. Mitsotakis' comments drew fire from his colleagues, former parliament president and deputy Athanasios Tsaldaris, and Stavros Dimas, the general secretary of ND's central committee. "Today we are traversing a period of widespread controversy and internal conflicts within PASOK. Bringing such phenomena into ND with public appearances and statements hurts the party's upwards course, but (also) helps other parties, and primarily PASOK," Mr. Tsaldaris said. According to press reports, Mr. Evert phoned Mr. Tsaldaris prior to the his statements yesterday.

    Mr. Dimas also took exception to Mr. Mitsotakis' statement that he would not countenance a discussion of a composite name for FYROM. "Had Mr. Mitsotakis queried or informed me? He (Mitsotakis) handled the matter himself with the foreign minister at the time. As an experienced politician, he knows he is judged by results. Excuses after the fact don't suffice," Mr. Dimas said.

    [6] SE European cities must help in efforts for peaceful co-existence, Athens mayor says

    Athens, 06/10/1995 (ANA):

    Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos told mayors of cities in southeast Europe yesterday of the need for nations in the wider Balkan region to peacefully co-exist and said that their two-day meeting opened new avenues in creating a "joint alliance against the era's major problems". The conference officially began yesterday at the Zappeion Hall.

    Mr. Avramopoulos, who is responsible for the initiative, said that the conference would not be just another peripheral meeting, but a permanent event where opinions and solutions will be proposed on tough problems. He said the conference will take place on a yearly basis in a different capital and will have a coordinating body to ensure that decisions of co-operation are applied and that continuous communication between municipalities is maintained.

    The government was represented by the Alternate Minister of Interior and Public Administration George Daskalakis, while main opposition New Democracy party was represented by ND leader Miltiades Evert. Also in attendance were Coalition of the Left and Progress President Nikos Constantopoulos, Political Spring deputy Stephanos Stephanopoulos and Communist Party of Greece deputy Spiros Halvatzis.

    In his greeting, Mr. Daskalakis said: "The productive forces of local communities must be set in motion toward a direction of reconstruction that fulfills economic, political and cultural needs of a post Cold War democratic Europe." Also addressing the conference was Theodoros Pangalos, the PASOK deputy and president of the coalition "Athens Citizens' Movement 2000." Mr. Evert suggested a "new Olympiad" at the start of the next century that will "combine mind and culture."

    Greetings were also sent by United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev. The mayors of Ljubljana, Nicosia, Skopje, Sarajevo and the deputy mayor of Budapest spoke during the conference's first day.

    Activities continue today during an on-board cruise to the island of Hydra. The cities of Belgrade, Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest, Zagreb, Kiev, Nicosia, Ljubljana, Podgorica, Sarajevo, Skopje, Sofia and Tirana are taking part. The cities of Ankara and Istanbul are not represented.

    [7] Greece welcomes Croat-Serb deal

    Athens, 06/10/1995 (ANA):

    Greece yesterday welcomed as "a significant first step" the preliminary deal reached Wednesday between rival Croats and Serbs over Croatia's Serb-held Eastern Slavonia region. "The agreement comprises the first step, which undoubtedly is very significant for continuation of the efforts, via negotiations, for a comprehensive solution to the problem of Eastern Slavonia, "Foreign Ministry spokesman Costas Bikas told a regular press briefing.

    "Greece states that the sides concerned should continue their talks by all means, in good faith and with the necessary political volition, and on the basis of all that has already been agreed for a speedy solution to the problem," Mr. Bikas said.

    [8] Inonu critical of Europarliament's conditions for customs union

    Ankara, 06/10/1995 (ANA/AFP):

    Turkish Foreign Minister Erdal Inonu yesterday said the European Parliament was in no position to set conditions for the ratification of the EU-Turkey customs union. "The European Parliament cannot set (such) conditions (as) the (solution to the) Cyprus problem, the release of Kurdish MPs from jail, constitutional amendments and amendments to article 8 of the anti-terrorism law ... The European Parliament will create problems to every state that will seek new arrangements ... Turkey is the first victim," Anatolia news agency quoted Mr. Inonu as telling a group of businessmen in Istanbul on Wednesday evening.

    [9] Greece would consider request to assist peace force in Bosnia, Arsenis says

    Williamsburg, Virginia 06/10/1995 (ANA/L. Papantoniou):

    Greek Defence Minister Gerasimos Arsenis said yesterday that Greece would consider participating in a possible peacekeeping force in Bosnia that would be sent to enforce an agreed peace plan. " I would like to listen carefully to the conditions under which they (peacekeeping forces) would operate, the possibility of other countries, such as Russia, participating and then we shall adopt a stand," Mr. Arsenis told the informal NATO defence ministers meeting here.

    "If there is an agreement for peace, if the warring sides consider that Greece's participation is an important element for the consolidation of peace, and if other countries - many other countries - participate, we shall view such a request in a positive manner," he said.

    After meeting successively with US Defence Secretary William Perry and NATO Secretary-General Willy Claes, Mr. Arsenis said there was reserved optimism that a cease-fire would hold and there would be agreement on a peace plan.

    He added that discussion had also touched upon the issue of the activation of NATO regional headquarters in Greece. "I have no specific point of progress to which to refer to at present," he told reporters, adding that he was not optimistic about a positive outcome on the issue during the present meeting, and that it was very likely the matter would go to the NATO regular session at the end of November for further discussion.

    [10] News In Brief

    Athens, 06/10/1995 (ANA):

    Greece recorded the lowest increase in industrial production among European Union countries in the first half of 1995, compared to the same period last year. According to data released by the EU Statistical Service (EUROSTAT), the increase in Greek industrial production was 1.2 per cent, compared to Sweden (the EU's highest) at 12.5 per cent, and an EU average of 4.7 per cent.

    Officials from Confindustria, the Federation of Italian Industries, will visit Greece on October 13, marking the organization's first official trip to this nation. The Italian delegation, headed by Confindustria President Luigi Abete, will meet with Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) officials for talks and to sign a co-operation agreement. The meeting is organized by the Italian Chamber of Commerce for Greece with the support of Telestet, the mobile phone network, and aims to further closer cooperation with productive forces in each country as well as to confront common problems.

    [11] New Greek initiative aims to introduce Russian managers to EU know-how

    Athens, 06/10/1995 (ANA):

    The "Productivity Initiative", a sub-programme belonging to the wider Community programme TACIS (concerning development aid to countries in the former Soviet Union), was presented by the sub-programme's director Mr. M. Dibut at the Grande Bretagne Hotel yesterday. The event, held under the auspices of the National Economy Ministry, was organized by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Greco-Russian Chamber and the Federation of S.A. companies of Greece. The "Productivity Initiative" funds the entire cost for the stay of selected Russian industry members in enterprises in European Union countries.

    The purpose of this move is to provide Russian managers with first-hand experience in free market mechanisms to help them improve their enterprises' operation when they return home, while at the same time it benefits hosting companies which acquire easy access to Russian enterprises. Since Greek companies have low operational costs and an increasing interest in boosting their transactions in the vast former USSR market, it was assessed that many Greek firms will show interest in the specific programme.

    [12] China expresses interest in joint ventures, investment in Greece

    Athens, 06/10/1995 (ANA):

    China yesterday expressed interest in realizing investments in Greece within the framework of efforts by Beijing to expand relations with the European Union. Chinese Ambassador to Greece Wu Jiagan expressed Peking's interest in investing particularly in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, during a meeting yesterday in Komotini with the General Secretary of the region Haris Tsiokas. The Chinese envoy was accompanied by embassy first secretary Chen Xiaxing and administration director Bao Pei Yuan.

    The Chinese delegation expressed interest in the creation of joint ventures and initiatives related to co-operation between the EU and China through Greece. The two sides discussed the particularly attractive investment incentives provided by the state as part of its development policy for the region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.

    Within the framework of efforts to strengthen ties between Athens and Beijing, National Economy Under-secretary Ioannis Anthopoulos will visit China in the next few days, followed shortly by Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias.

    An inter-Balkan meeting to discuss the establishment of a Balkan Consumer Protection Centre will be held in Thessaloniki today. The meeting is organized by the Thessaloniki-based Consumer Protection Centre (KEPKA) and will take place with the participation of consumer groups from Bulgaria, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Romania and Albania.

    [13] Farmers' groups reject gov't cheaper fuel proposals

    Athens, 06/10/1995 (ANA):

    The Panhellenic Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives (PASEGES) yesterday rejected the measures announced by the government for cheaper fuel for farmers. The government Wednesday announced a 30 per cent reduction in the special consumption tax on fuel for farmers, which translates into a decrease of 22- 25 drachmas per litre. The cheaper fuel would be available to farmers in the form of tax rebates.

    In an announcement yesterday, PASEGES protested both the size of the percentage reduction and the manner in which farmers would be reimbursed. PASEGES called on the government to re-examine the issue and, pending a final settlement of the matter, increase the consumption tax reduction to 50 per cent.

    PASEGES was joined by the Confederation of Democratic Farm Associations of Greece (SYDASE) in condemning the measures announced by the government. A SYDASE announcement said that the measures did not satisfy the long-standing demand of farmers for a considerable reduction in production costs.

    Describing the consumption tax reduction as "trifling," SYDASE said that it would be given to all farmers, rather than to those for whom farming was their main occupation. "This will result in real farmers sharing the 30 billion drachmas to be given a way with doctors, lawyers etc.," SYDASE said. SYDASE also expressed opposition to the manner in which farmers would be reimbursed through tax rebates.

    End of English language section.

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