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A.N.A. Bulletin, 25/10/95

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 724), October 25, 1995

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Major bilateral agreements with Bulgaria will be signed by year's end, Papoulias says

  • [2] Greece dismisses plans for 'para-Egnatia' highway, Egnatia Highway a major priority for EU

  • [3] Opposition

  • [4] 'Historical' agreement for Helsinki Alexandroupolis axis signed

  • [5] UN receives 'typically' Greek gifts on anniversary

  • [6] A ND government would aim to sell off major state banks, Evert says

  • [7] Tsohatzopoulos announces establishment of ombudsman

  • [8] Pilot methadone programme set to start in Athens, Thessaloniki

  • [9] Evert refuses comment on Souflias statements

  • [10] Premier to chair meeting of PASOK political secretariat

  • [11] Greek Parliament to debate FYROM dispute

  • [12] Vance, Zacharakis confer on name issue talks

  • [13] EU drops legal action against Greece on FYROM

  • [14] Dimitris Maroudas dies

  • [15] Arsenis, Eliades discuss joint defense doctrine co-operation

  • [16] Pensioners hold protest march to Parliament

  • [17] Papantoniou: future interest reductions should follow course of inflation

  • [18] Greek fish safe, Akrivakis says

  • [19] Greek-Russian consortium receives contract for Volga River bridge


  • [1] Major bilateral agreements with Bulgaria will be signed by year's end, Papoulias says

    Sofia, 25/10/1995 (ANA - N. Chios):

    Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou will visit Sofia by the end of the year to sign important bilateral agreements with his Bulgarian counterpart Jean Videnov, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias said yesterday.

    The agreements include the opening of border checkpoints between the two countries, the waters of the River Nestos, the employment of seasonal workers and an agreement on relocating people.

    Mr. Papoulias made the statement on his return from Sofia at the end of a one-day lightning visit for talks on bilateral concerns with his counterpart Georgui Pirinski.

    During his brief visit to the Bulgarian capital, Mr. Papoulias also met briefly with Mr. Videnov.

    He said his talks in Sofia had been "substantive and had good results." "There is a cordial understanding between the two countries which is very important for the Balkans," he said.

    Mr. Papoulias also said Greece and Bulgaria were ready to contribute to rebuilding former Yugoslavia.

    Speaking at the joint press conference with Mr. Pirinski at the end of the talks, Mr. Papoulias confirmed progress achieved in bilateral talks on securing an agreement on the issue of the Nestos waters and border corridors, adding that together with the agreements on seasonal employment and relocation "they are ready or almost mature to be signed by the two prime ministers."

    Mr. Papoulias said three new border checkpoints - Xanthi-Roudozem, Komotini-Kerzali and Drama-Goce Delcev - would be opened. "They will give a new impetus to the movement of people and goods and they will strengthen border trade and bilateral trade and economic relations," he said.

    Mr. Papoulias said road networks, the modernization of ports and co-operation with telecommunications networks with the support of the European Union were plans capable of being implemented immediately.

    Referring to the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline issue, Mr. Papoulias stressed the two countries' great interest in promoting the pipeline. "Despite existing difficulties they will be overcome with goodwill by both sides. Conditions are very good and the possibility is provided for the governments of Greece, Russia and Bulgaria to co-operate in a very important undertaking," he said.

    Mr. Pirinski said the oil pipeline issue was "a tripartite plan with very good prospects of implementation" and proposed a tripartite meeting in the immediate future.

    Replying to a questioner on the Greek position concerning the Kozloduy nuclear station, Mr. Papoulias said the European Union should help Bulgaria in finding a solution to the problem.

    Greece has been one of the European countries opposed to the re-opening of the troubled Soviet-era reactor at the plant.

    Mr. Papoulias confirmed Greece's continued and undivided support for the Bulgarian government's targets of rapprochement with the EU and the NATO alliance.

    At the end of the first phase of talks with Mr. Papoulias, Mr. Pirinski said the normalization of relations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) "benefits common stability in the region."

    Mr. Pirinski said prospects were appearing for the development of tripartite economic co-operation based on the implementation of EU programmes.

    [2] Greece dismisses plans for 'para-Egnatia' highway, Egnatia Highway a major priority for EU

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    Greece said yesterday that work on a major inter-European road network, the Egnatia Highway, planned to span the breadth of Greece from west to northeast and possibly extending to Istanbul, effectively canceled out plans by four Balkan nations to construct a similar road link through the region.

    "Good intentions do not build projects," Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias said yesterday before leaving for Sofia for talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Georgui Pirinski on security issues and other bilateral concerns.

    On his return from his talks in Sofia, Mr. Papoulias said he had brought up the reported plan by Bulgaria, Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania to construct a highway linking Durres on the Adriatic with Istanbul with Mr. Pirinski.

    "I mentioned that the Egnatia Highway is a reality that must be completed and has all the conditions for it to be completed, such as EU funding," he said. He said the Bulgarian side expressed interest in the large-scale north-south highway projects and the major corridors to central, eastern and northern Europe. The Egnatia Highway has acquired significant importance recently with projected north-south corridors linking Scandinavia and central Europe with the Balkans. In Brussels yesterday, Greece and eight other eastern and central European countries agreed to create a Helsinki-Alexandroupolis road axis.

    Monday's reports said the construction of the Durres-Istanbul highway was estimated at one billion dollars and would be financed by the World Bank, the European Development Bank and the US.

    Dubbed the "para-Egnatia Highway" by Greek Transport Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday, the suggested highway would run parallel to the Egnatia Highway already under construction on Greek soil.

    The Egnatia Highway, a western European-standard motorway connecting the port of Igoumenitsa on Greece's extreme northwestern corner, with Alexandroupolis in Thrace and possibly Istanbul, is a major project in full swing and one of 14 specific projects that received top priority by the EU at the Essen summit. Before his departure, Mr. Papoulias said the plan was not new and that a joint statement issued by the presidents of the four Balkan countries after a meeting in New York on Monday "is the continuation of an effort that began a year-and-a-half ago".

    The 'para-Egnatia route', Mr. Papoulias said, "is part of the ulterior motives of certain parties, among them Turkey."

    However, he described the move as a "warning shot" to Greece's "sluggishness," and expressed hope that the pace of construction of the Egnatia Highway would be sped up.

    Government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris said the government did not attribute special significance to the announcement of plans for a 'para-Egnatia', saying the project lacked solid foundation.

    "The project exists (only) in words," Mr. Hytiris said, attributing the presence of EU external relations commissioner Hans van den Broek at the joint press conference to "public relations."

    The spokesman said the European Union had not made any decision to either fund such work or finance a feasibility study, adding that the Egnatia Highway would be ready in four years' time, with sections of the road going into circulation earlier.

    Transport Minister Evangelos Venizelos described the proposal as an "abstract and precocious diplomatic effort lacking funding and without a concrete future."

    He stressed that the Egnatia Highway was being constructed on Greek territory, was an EU priority following the Essen summit, and "in essence nullifies a parallel route at the same exact points".

    [3] Opposition

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    A spokesman for the main opposition New Democracy party said the construction of the Egnatia Highway "has been unjustifiably delayed, with only a small part of it having been completed so far."

    Vassilis Manginas criticized the government of being "incapable" of absorbing European Union funds earmarked for Greece, thus "depriving the country not only of the necessary infrastructure projects but also the creation of thousands of new jobs."

    Mr. Manginas said that New Democracy, "which had incorporated the project in EU programmes," would "bring this major issue to Parliament", and accused the government of "criminal indifference and inertia."

    Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras said the 'para-Egnatia' highway aimed at attracting foreign investment and that foreign interests were benefiting from the government's neglect. He called on the government to "realize its responsibilities and promote the construction of the Egnatia highway."

    "The Egnatia highway is a work of national importance and top priority and its unacceptable delay degrades the role of the Greek economy in the Balkans and harms vital national interests," he said.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress Eurodeputy Alekos Alavanos asked the European Commission to clarify whether the EU had feasibility studies on the 'para-Egnatia' highway and its relation to the Egnatia Highway.

    ND deputy Dora Bakoyanni tabled a question in Parliament yesterday asking for the government's reaction to possible EU support for a 'para-Egnatia' highway and further asked why the work on the Egnatia Highway had been delayed, and measures taken to in crease absorption of EU funds.

    "The European Union appears to be tolerating the project and the United States (appears to be) willing to fund (the para-Egnatia project)," Ms Bakoyanni said. "At the same time, the Egnatia Highway is being delayed due to the government's inertia".

    Political Spring deputy Stephanos Stephanopoulos also tabled a question in parliament requesting a response as to why the Egnatia Highway had been delayed, whether the government has the sources to fund its construction and whether Greece will indirectly fund, through Community funds, the construction of the para-Egnatia highway.

    [4] 'Historical' agreement for Helsinki Alexandroupolis axis signed

    Brussels, 25/10/1995 (ANA - P. Pantelis):

    Some nine countries put their seal on an agreement to create a road axis running the length of Helsinki to Alexandroupolis at EU headquarters yesterday.

    European Commissioner for Transport Neil Kinnock called the project a "historical event."

    The agreement for the Helsinki-Alexandroupolis axis, running through St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Odessa and Bucharest, was signed by transport ministers from Finland, Russia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, Belorussia, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece.

    Transport Under-secretary Christos Kokkinovassilis represented Athens.

    Mr. Kokkinovassilis said the ambitious Helsinki-Alexandroupolis highway is a significant part of the inter-European transport networks and assists the EU's opening toward eastern Europe.

    Speaking to Greek officials, Mr. Kokkinovassilis said the EU-funded project essentially negates prospects for a para-Egnatia Highway, the project announced in New York this week by Albania, FYROM, Bulgaria and Turkey.

    [5] UN receives 'typically' Greek gifts on anniversary

    United Nations, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    Greece's contributions to the commemoration of the United Nations' 50th anniversary were an olive branch and a flame from Delphi.

    The characteristically Hellenic gifts were presented in a special ceremony yesterday by Foreign Ministry Under-secretary Grigoris Niotis to UN alternate general secretary Benon Sevan in New York.

    [6] A ND government would aim to sell off major state banks, Evert says

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    Speaking at the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens last night, main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert said when his party came to power, it would privatize the subsidiaries of the two largest state-owned banks, National and Commercial, and would aim to privatize the two giants themselves at a later stage, by floating a large percentage of their share capital through the stock market.

    He also said the next constitutional revision should include guarantees for the independence of the Bank of Greece from the government.

    Referring to the stock market, he said the Athens Stock Exchange index should move up to 1300-1400 points if the planned privatizations, and in particular that of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), were to succeed.

    He also said that the Elefsina and Skaramangas shipyards should be both privatized, with additional investment and about 550-600 lay-offs.

    [7] Tsohatzopoulos announces establishment of ombudsman

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday announced the establishment of the institution of a public administration commissioner or ombudsman to operate as an independent authority in arbitrating problems between citizens and the state.

    He also called for "a democratic dialogue" between the government and "all political and social forces" to achieve the best possible agreement on reforms, renewal and restructuring of state administration.

    He added that reforms in public administration will be completed within 1996.

    Stressing that the national inter-party parliamentary public administration committee would soon convene to discuss these issues, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said: "We need a modern state with efficient public administration".

    [8] Pilot methadone programme set to start in Athens, Thessaloniki

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    A pilot programme for the distribution of methadone to heroin addicts, the first of its kind in Greece, will commence after approval this evening by Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou.

    Two centers for prescription of the non-addictive heroin substitute will function in Athens and Thessaloniki. The programme also includes a medical check-up and psychological support for drug users. Health Minister Dimitrios Kremastinos told reporters after a meeting with Mr. Papandreou this evening that the programme will start with 200 drug users in Athens and 100 in Thessaloniki. He said methadone would not be distributed freely to all users but only to those who have not been detoxified by other methods.

    According to the minister, methadone will also be given to heroin addicts suffering health problems such as AIDS and hepatitis.

    Welfare Under-secretary Manolis Skoulakis said that the distribution of methadone would start at the beginning of November adding that the results of the programme will be used as "a guide to the future."

    In an announcement later, the Union of the Leftist Youth - the youth group of the Coalition of the Left and Progress - expressed approval at the government's initiative and suggested that the programme start in the poorer areas of Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki.

    [9] Evert refuses comment on Souflias statements

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert yesterday refused to comment on a statement made by former ND minister George Souflias to the 'Sunday Ethnos' newspaper that he would be prepared to consider the possibility of a coalition government by the two major parties should the result of the next election prove inconclusive.

    "The problems concerning me are those facing the Greek people. New Democracy will have an absolute majority and apply a specific programme. The problem is not posed by cadres' statements," he said.

    According the sources in party headquarters, Mr. Evert holds the view that Mr. Souflias' statement was misinterpreted and given undue prominence in order to deflect attention from internal problems currently affecting the ruling party.

    Former premier Constantine Mitsotakis also refused to comment on the matter.

    Other long-time ND deputies, such as Nontas Zafeiropoulos and Giorgos Panayiotopoulos avoided criticizing Mr. Souflias.

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos, however, described the proposal as the "sum of failures of the power consortium of New Democracy and PASOK".

    "The country needs policies that will extricate it from the crisis, rather than authors of scenarios," he added.

    [10] Premier to chair meeting of PASOK political secretariat

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    PASOK's Political Secretariat will meet today under the chairmanship of PASOK president, Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou.

    It will the first meeting of the body since the party's new Executive Bureau was elected earlier this month. Government priorities in view of the drawing-up of the new budget are expected to be discussed during the meeting. Mr. Papandreou has previously said the Political Secretariat should become the link between the government and the ruling party.

    [11] Greek Parliament to debate FYROM dispute

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    A special Parliamentary debate on Greece's dispute with FYROM will be held on November 6.

    The debate was requested by main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert.

    [12] Vance, Zacharakis confer on name issue talks

    New York, 25/10/1995 (ANA - M. Georgiadou):

    Greece's permanent representative to the United Nations, Christos Zacharakis, met yesterday with the UN's mediator on the Athens-Skopje dispute, Cyrus Vance, in contacts held to lay the ground for talks on the "name" impasse between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Greece.

    Diplomatic sources said Mr. Vance, both with Mr. Zacharakis, as well as FYROM's acting President Stojan Antov and Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski, discussed procedural details that must be ironed out prior to the beginning of discussions on the vita l name issue.

    Greece and FYROM signed the interim agreement September 13 in New York, leading to the lifting of a trade embargo imposed by Athens last year against the one-time Yugoslav republic. Skopje in turn agreed to remove a Hellenic symbol, the Vergina star, from its flag and delete expansionist language from the preamble of its constitution.

    Diplomatic circles, however, said that negotiations on the contentious issue between Greece and FYROM should not be delayed, saying sources close to Mr. Vance and the UN Secretary-General point to meetings within a narrow time-frame and concluding by the end of the year.

    Due to Mr. Zacharakis' departure yesterday for Athens, contacts with the UN mediator will not resume until next week.

    [13] EU drops legal action against Greece on FYROM

    Brussels, 25/101995 (Reuter/ANA):

    The European Commission has dropped its legal action against Greece over its trade embargo on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), a Commission spokesman said yesterday.

    "We have dropped the case... because it was taken out to get the embargo lifted and there are now sufficient signs that this has happened," he said.

    The Commission began its action against Greece in April last year, when Athens held the European Union presidency, after months of futile diplomatic efforts to persuade it to lift the trade sanctions.

    However, legal opinions have come out against the Commission's action on the grounds that Greece was justified in believing the dispute between the two countries over FYROM's flag and constitution was serious enough to lead to combat.

    Greece complained that the flag contained an ancient Hellenic symbol and the constitution showed overt territorial ambitions on the neighboring Greek province of Macedonia.

    [14] Dimitris Maroudas dies

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    Dimitris Maroudas, a veteran journalist and former minister, died yesterday at the age of 68.

    Mr. Maroudas was Under-secretary to the Prime Minister's Office and Alternate Minister to the Prime Minister's Office for many years and was a close associate of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. He was first elected PASOK party deputy for the Zakynthos constituency in 1985. Born on the island of Zakynthos in 1927, Mr. Maroudas was married and has a son and a daughter. He was appointed special adviser to Mr. Papandreou on December 1, 1993.

    Last night, Mr. Papandreou expressed his profound grief at Mr. Maroudas' death.

    A PASOK press office statement said the party "expressed its profound grief" at the death of one of its prominent cadres.

    Political Spring party leader Antonis Samaras sent his condolences.

    [15] Arsenis, Eliades discuss joint defense doctrine co-operation

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    Greek National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis and his Cypriot counterpart Costas Eliades discussed Athens-Nicosia co-operation in the framework of the joint defense doctrine at their meeting in Athens yesterday.

    The meeting was also attended by members of the political and military leadership of the defense ministry and members of the defense and foreign affairs committees of the Cypriot parliament.

    Mr. Eliades described the co-operation between the two ministries on a common strategy "as successful", adding that implementation of a joint defense zone would open "a new perspective for Hellenism in the broader region of the eastern Mediterranean."

    Meanwhile, mutual co-operation between Greek and Cypriot defense and foreign affairs parliamentary committees was decided during yesterday's first joint meeting of the two committees at the Greek Parliament.

    Co-operation will concern joint meetings on national issues and the monitoring of joint military exercises between Greece and Cyprus as part of the unified defense doctrine.

    It was also decided that Greek deputies participating in corresponding parliamentary committees at international organizations, such as NATO and the Western European Union, will represent Cyprus as well.

    The next joint meeting between the two committees will be held in Nicosia at a date to be set later.

    [16] Pensioners hold protest march to Parliament

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    Pensioners yesterday rallied in downtown Athens and marched to Parliament to protest low stipends.

    General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) president Christos Protopapas stressed that a basic demand was the parity of the lowest pensions with 20 daily wage rates for unskilled workers, and of the remainder with 80 per cent of salaries. He said that 80 per cent of Social Security Foundation (IKA) pensioners, some 550,000 people, today lived below the poverty line. He warned that if the government did not show sensitivity to the matter, trade unions would escalate their action.

    IKA pensioners president Diamantis Mavrodoglou said outstanding social security contributions by employers, private individuals, and the state to social insurance funds would solve all their problems, and recalled the present government's pre-election promises for increases in pensions.

    Parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis said, after receiving a resolution handed by a delegation, that the state should give priority, within the bounds of feasibility, to pensioners' problems. He added this was necessary to secure the measure of social cohesion required for the economy to move from stabilization to growth.

    After meeting with pensioners' representatives yesterday, New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert called for the immediate restoration of real income losses suffered in the last three years.

    "An inter-party committee should be set up to decide, within a month, on increases and the level of pensions, as well as on ways of rehabilitating the social insurance system," he said.

    He added he was "greatly concerned and interested in pensioners' problems, because New Democracy will soon be called on to govern the country and provide solutions, but in no way will I give you false promises, only words of responsibility".

    He admitted the last ND government had made mistakes in its social insurance legislation, saying, "we are not infallible, we recognize our mistakes".

    Further protest rallies are expected to be held in provincial towns.

    [17] Papantoniou: future interest reductions should follow course of inflation

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday told Greek banks that any further reductions in real interest should closely follow declines in inflation, which was running at 8.4 per cent at end-September.

    The up-to-now rapid reduction of interest rates, however, was correct, Mr. Papantoniou told an economic conference on "the capital market, stock-market and the banking system."

    He added, however, that "there should be no further reduction of real interest," but "any additional reductions in interest must closely follow the declines in inflation."

    Mr. Papantoniou urged the Bank of Greece "to be moderate," adding that there was an agreement with the central bank that "the real interest on bonds and in the interbank market should slightly exceed six per cent."

    He further said the recent wave of major decreases in bank interest rates, chiefly on housing loans, gave "no cause for concern."

    Mr. Papantoniou told an audience of bankers and businessmen that a strict foreign exchange policy would continue to be followed in the future.

    He said that the government would also continue its "hard drachma" policy, with the agreement of the opposition, which "is a necessary element of antiinflationary policy."

    Mr. Papantoniou also said the government should not be criticized for the current deficit in the balance of payments since it was within the projected limits of two billion dollars annually.

    He further said the economic stabilization programme would be pursued without deviation, with a prospective acceleration of the country's developmental rates after 1997, while the real incomes of workers would be safeguarded in 1996 and the social dialogue with the workers intensified.

    [18] Greek fish safe, Akrivakis says

    Athens, 25/10/1995 (ANA):

    Agriculture Under-secretary Alexandros Akrivakis reassured the public yesterday that the quality of Greek fish products was excellent.

    Mr. Akrivakis was speaking at a press conference in the wake of press reports reporting the EU European Bureau of Consumer Unions had said that Greek fish contain a large quantity of bacteria and are of "doubtful quality."

    Mr. Akrivakis termed the announcement by the European Bureau of Consumer Unions "peculiar."

    "Phraseology and data mentioned in the announcement bear no relation to reality and are also not based on an investigation conducted by the Union of Consumers for the Quality of Life (EPOIZO) on behalf of the European Consumers Bureau," he added.

    Agriculture Ministry Secretary-General for fishing issues Costas Tsigaridas said the ministry was systematically monitoring the hygiene of fish products through its own veterinary services which were based on a bigger number of samples and were repeated at regular intervals.

    EPOIZO President Ms. Goulielmou said that from a point of view of hygiene Greek fish were at a satisfactory level and no concern was justified for the health of consumers.

    [19] Greek-Russian consortium receives contract for Volga River bridge

    Moscow, 25/10/1995 (ANA - D. Constantakopoulos):

    The Greek-Russian consortium Transetep was awarded a construction contract yesterday for a 1,200-meter bridge spanning the Volga River near Volgograd, budgeted at $350 million.

    The consortium is comprised of the Greek company ETEP and the Russian firms Volga-Most Transtroi.

    Eighteen large international construction companies vied for the contract, including Samsung, Bechtel and others.

    The project's funding share is 30 per cent by local funds; 25 per cent through the federal treasury, while the remainder will be covered by foreign loans.

    Until now Greek construction companies have been mostly absent from the Russian market.

    End of English language section.

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