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A.N.A. Bulletin, 27/10/95

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 726), October 27, 1995

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] War reparations issue: Germany obliged to recognize ethical dimensions, Athens says

  • [2] Reactions

  • [3] Thessaloniki celebrates liberation from Ottoman rule

  • [4] Europe watching developments in human rights in Turkey, Hytiris says

  • [5] Peponis to attend Amman summit on Mideast economic ties

  • [6] Vartholomeos begins Romania visit

  • [7] Greece condemns Turkish violations of Cypriot air space

  • [8] Press, political figures pay last respects to Dimitris Maroudas

  • [9] Mitsotakis adviser reveals backstage consultations on FYROM dispute

  • [10] Hytiris reiterates PASOK will win next elections

  • [11] Commission takes Greece to court over over-taxed second-hand car imports

  • [12] Zhelev champions 'para-Egnatia' highway

  • [13] Stratos says '96 crucial year for Greek economy, no time for slacker policies

  • [14] EKO interest in Plastika Kavalas brings hope of reopening plant

  • [15] News in Brief


  • [1] War reparations issue: Germany obliged to recognize ethical dimensions, Athens says

    Athens, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    Greece reiterated yesterday that the issue of claiming war reparations from Germany for the Nazi 1941-44 occupation was still open, adding that Germany was obliged to take a stance on an "immense ethical issue".

    "The issue always existed and continues to exist," government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris told reporters yesterday. "It could not be otherwise because Greece had many victims in the fight against fascism."

    Noting that the issue had "enormous moral dimensions", Mr. Hytiris said Greece would seek the repayment of the loan which Greece's central bank was forced to extend to the Nazi occupiers, clarifying, however, that it would do so "when it sees fit and at the appropriate level."

    Commenting on criticism that not enough was being done to support Greek citizens who had lodged private lawsuits for damages, Mr. Hytiris said that the issue was being dealt with by the Greek courts and for this reason the government could not intervene.

    Bonn was conspicuously silent yesterday after Greece's Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantine Bikas commented on the German Foreign Ministry's refusal to be served with suits filed by some 1,000 private Greek citizens, claiming damages for suffering, loss of life and property during the brutal Nazi occupation.

    Bonn said that, according to international law, private citizens cannot file lawsuits against a state and that such demands could only be raised at a state level.

    "The issue of German war reparations and the occupation 'loan' is a major issue for the entire Greek people, in light of their sacrifices and the dead from the struggle against fascism and the occupation," Mr. Bikas said.

    "The Athens government ... is carefully proceeding with all the delicate handlings required for the successful outcome of the issue," Mr. Bikas said.

    Apart from the "unproductive legal and political dimensions," there was also "an immense ethical issue on which the German government must take a stance," Mr. Bikas added.

    Bonn has argued that German war reparations to Greece have been canceled out as a result of financial transactions between the two countries within the framework of the European Union. But the Commission rejected the German argument last month, stating that "the funds allocated to (EU) member states within the framework of the Community policies come from the Community budget. This budget is financed from own resources (Article 201 of the Treaty)."

    An ANA dispatch from Bonn said the statement by Mr. Bikas remained unanswered and without comment by the German side yesterday.

    A German foreign ministry spokesman refused to make any comment, at first declaring ignorance of the issue and subsequently referring the questioner to the federal economy ministry, while Deputy Foreign Minister Helmut Scheffer, through his office's director, stated: "We have said what we had to say and have nothing further."

    During a recent speech at the Council of Europe (CoE) in Strasbourg, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said the reparations issue was "forever concluded" after the 1953 London Agreement.

    Furthermore, Mr. Scheffer in an interview last month said the raising of the reparations issue against Germany by the Greek side was related to criticism of Germany's foreign policy.

    He maintained the Greek government should make it clear to Greek citizens that lawsuits in Greek courts demanding reparations "did not have the slightest chance of success "as, under international law, such a likelihood would only materialize with the signing of a bilateral Greek-Germany agreement".

    Mr. Scheffer also referred to a 1960 agreement, whereby the then West Germany paid 115 million Deutschemarks to Greeks persecuted during the Nazi occupation, saying no other obligation existed, although the Greek ambassador at the time expressed written reservations on the matter.

    Indirectly, however, the German official left a loophole in Bonn's position in relation to a mandatory "loan" by occupied Greece to the Nazi regime, stating that if the Greek government after 60 years raises such claims, then it should open negotiations with Germany.

    Diplomatic circles in the German capital interpreted the return of the lawsuits to the Greek Embassy in Bonn, and the blunt tone of an accompanying message, as on the one hand considering the issue as "non-existent" and on the other, expressing displeasure that the lawsuits were forwarded through the Greece's embassy, thus acquiring an official tone.

    [2] Reactions

    Athens, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress yesterday issued an announcement saying claims for German war reparations was an issue of "immense moral, historic and political significance."

    The German government's stance on this issue "is unacceptable, but it is also being facilitated by the unprecedented neglect of all Greek governments until today," the announcement said.

    The party called on the government to proceed with settlement of the issue.

    Meanwhile, PASOK deputy Spyros Kaloudis has submitted an application to Parliament, addressed to the ministers of national economy, foreign affairs and finance, pointing out that Greece has so far not adequately applied to the issue of German war reparations, and asking that the following documents be produced in connection with the relevant demands.

    Firstly, the Rome Agreement, dated March 14, 1942, between the governments of Germany and Italy, and the war-time puppet Greek government, committing the Bank of Greece to providing loans to the two occupying powers, beyond 'occupation expenses'.

    Secondly, the loans agreed between the Bank of Greece or any other representative of the Greek state, in implementation of the above agreement.

    Thirdly, estimates produced by the Bank of Greece, showing the amounts lent and interest until December 31, 1994, on the basis of the calculated rate.

    Fourth, a copy of a report by the late professor Angelos Angelopoulos to the foreign ministry, dated September 26, 1964, informing the then government of the contacts he had had with officials of the then Federal Republic of Germany on the issue of Greek claims, and the measures recommended for contesting them.

    [3] Thessaloniki celebrates liberation from Ottoman rule

    Athens, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    Inaugurating three days of festivities in Greece's northern capital of Thessaloniki yesterday, President Kostis Stephanopoulos said the city had become the premier cultural and economic city of the Balkans.

    Arriving in the city late Wednesday night to attend the celebrations for "Ohi" ('No') Day tomorrow and yesterday's 83rd anniversary of the city's liberation from Ottoman rule, the president called on the Greek people to "celebrate this important national anniversary, which is an opportunity for all to ponder the great achievement of Macedonia's liberation and the liberation of the Nation."

    October 28 commemorates the day that Greece was dragged into World War II when it refused Mussolini's ultimatum that it surrender or be invaded.

    In Thessaloniki, celebrations traditionally begin two days earlier with events commemorating the city's patron saint, Dimitrios, and a special service at St. Dimitrios Cathedral to mark the anniversary of the city's liberation from Ottoman rule in the first Balkan war in 1912.

    "The spiritual strength, the dignity of the Greek people, and the untamed boldness of the Greek army have glorified Greece to the ends of the earth, even if these struggles and sacrifices have not been fully acknowledged and admired," Mr. Stephanopoulos added.

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos represented the government at yesterday's te deum service at the St. Demetrios Cathedral.

    The service was also attended by main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert and former president Christos Sartzetakis.

    Speaking to the press after the service, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos referred to "the present challenge for the Greek people to open a new course in relation to Europe and the surrounding geopolitical region," adding that for the first time in many years "prospects for Greece are positive."

    "The slanders against Greece must come to an end," Mr. Evert said, adding that the Greeks should summon up their courage so they would not have to mourn for "more lost countries."

    Thessaloniki's Mayor Constantine Kosmopoulos referred to the need for unity and said the city had always been united in "critical times for the nation."

    [4] Europe watching developments in human rights in Turkey, Hytiris says

    Athens, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    Government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris yesterday said Greece's only interest in Turkey's domestic affairs was in the course of the human rights situation in the country.

    Turkey's appeals court yesterday upheld the sentences against six Kurdish MPs and ordered the release of two others jailed last year for separatism.

    Mr. Hytiris said the whole of Europe, not just Greece, was concerned with the issue of respect for human rights in Turkey.

    PASOK's Eurodeputy Yiannos Kranidiotis said the Turkish court's decision to free two of the eight imprisoned Kurdish MPs and the endorsement of an amendment to the terrorism law, were "actions made to impress."

    He added that the third condition set by the European Parliament in order to ratify the customs union with the EU (the other two being respect for human rights and the country's democratization) was a change of the Turkish government's stance on the Cyprus problem.

    "Until now, Turkey's attitude has not met these terms," he added.

    [5] Peponis to attend Amman summit on Mideast economic ties

    Athens, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    Industry, Energy and Technology Minister Anastasios Peponis will represent Greece at a three-day meeting beginning in Amman, Jordan on Sunday to examine possibilities for further economic co-operation between the countries of the Middle East and North Africa.

    The meeting will be attended by premiers, foreign, finance and industry ministers, heads of international organizations and credit institutions from over 15 countries.

    Among the speakers scheduled to address the meeting are US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono and his Russian counterpart Andrei Kozyrev.

    The meeting is expected to focus on regional economic co-operation in sectors such as energy, telecommunications, investments, textiles, food and drinks and transport.

    According to informed sources, Mr. Peponis is expected to urge the reorientation of economic activity in certain sectors as well as the need to liberalize trade and repatriation of private capital as prerequisites for the entry of the Middle East economy into international markets.

    Also attending the meeting will be National Economy Minister Ioannis Anthopoulos and Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's economic adviser Louka Katseli.

    [6] Vartholomeos begins Romania visit

    Istanbul, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos left for a visit to Romania yesterday at the invitation of Bucharest Patriarch Theoktistos.

    The Patriarch will attend events marking the 110th anniversary of the awarding of the autocephalus status to the Romanian Church and the 70th anniversary of the awarding of the "Patriarchal merit."

    The Ecumenical Patriarch is accompanied by the Metropolitans of Ierissos and Mounth Athos, the Metropolitan of Ardamerios Nikodemos and the Metropolitan of Laodikia Iakovos and deacon Dorotheos Hartomatsidis of the Belgian Metropolis.

    The Patriarch will return to Istanbul on October 31.

    [7] Greece condemns Turkish violations of Cypriot air space

    Athens, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    Greece yesterday condemned the recent violations of Cypriot air space by Turkish aircraft, saying they provided "evidence once again of Turkish provocativeness and intransigence."

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Costas Bikas made the statement in reply to press questions.

    He added that the violations underlined the importance of the joint Greek-Cyprus defense doctrine.

    Two Turkish aircraft violated the republic's air space on two different occasions on Wednesday.

    Greece's Ambassador to Cyprus Alexandros Sandis said yesterday that the joint defense doctrine between Athens and Nicosia was "not static and has not yet been completed."

    "The recent presence in Cyprus of Hellenic Air Force planes and ships is only the 'tip of the spear'," Mr. Sandis said during a dinner at a Larnaca Rotary Club event celebrating Greece's upcoming national holiday on Saturday.

    [8] Press, political figures pay last respects to Dimitris Maroudas

    Athens, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    Journalist and former minister Dimitris Maroudas, 68, was laid to rest at the Athens First Cemetery yesterday afternoon in the presence of a large crowd, including politicians and journalists.

    Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou was represented at the funeral by his wife Dimitra Liani-Papandreou, who said the late journalist was "a cheerful man" and a pioneering journalist.

    The service, conducted by Metropolitan of Zakynthos Chrysostomos, was attended by many Cabinet members, deputies, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis, members of PASOK's Central Committee, Athens Journalists Union President Dimitris Glavas and members of the board and many journalists.

    Mr. Skandalidis referred to Mr. Maroudas' activities in the socialist movement from its founding.

    "You were a faithful and steadfast friend of Andreas Papandreou since the founding of the movement and it is not by chance that you were also an adviser of his until yesterday," he said.

    Mr. Glavas, a close friend of the deceased, bid farewell to an "excellent politician and journalist".

    Eulogies were made by a number of dignitaries, including a representative of journalists working for the Athens daily "Niki" which Mr. Maroudas ran until March 1994.

    Britain's consular correspondent in Hania, Crete, was arrested yesterday after police found 15 ancient artifacts in his home.

    John Craxton, 65, was released after questioning, on the instructions of the public prosecutor until completion of the preliminary investigation.

    The antiquities have been handed over to archaeologists to determine their value.

    [9] Mitsotakis adviser reveals backstage consultations on FYROM dispute

    Athens, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    The Greek public got a look at behind-the-scenes consultations on the resolution of the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) during the 1990-93 New Democracy government yesterday, when daily "Eleftherotypia" published excerpts of a book by political adviser to former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, Theodoros Skyllakakis.

    According to the author, whose views are apparently endorsed by the former premier, who wrote the preface to the book, then-president of the republic Constantine Karamanlis had prevented Mr. Mitsotakis from proceeding to a compromise with FYROM, by refusing to convene the political leaders' council in January 1993, when the issue had been referred to the UN, and Greece was in a danger of losing everything.

    The author also claims that present ND party leader Miltiades Evert was responsible for indirectly encouraging then-foreign minister (and now Political Spring party leader) Antonis Samaras to adopt extremist positions, when stating at a party meeting, " we cannot accept compromises in the name of a (possible) worse development. They are asking us to commit suicide. We prefer to be murdered".

    Mr. Skyllakakis also reveals a document signed by Mr. Samaras as foreign minister, intended to be sent as a non-paper to his European counterparts on August 27, 1991, and containing the terms 'Macedonia', and 'Slavo-Macedonians'.

    Mr. Samaras' successor at the foreign ministry, Michalis Papaconstantinou, claimed in connection with the matter yesterday, that prominent members of the party, including its present leader, threatened to bring down the government shortly before negotiations were concluded in New York in 1993, if a more hard-line stand were not adopted.

    The same allegations were recently made by the former prime minister in an interview with the economic magazine 'Oikonomikos Tahydromos', and are contained in the book, which will be published soon.

    ND Vice-President Ioannis Varvitsiotis, asked if Mr. Mitsotakis was prevented from implementing a realistic proposal on the FYROM issue, said, "every prime minister follows, especially in issues of major national importance, that policy which he believe s best serves the country's interests".

    He added that there may be others who would also like to express their views on that period, but are not doing so, believing that the time is not right.

    [10] Hytiris reiterates PASOK will win next elections

    Athens, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    Government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris yesterday echoed Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's statements Wednesday that the government will win an absolute majority in elections to be held in 1997, at the end of PASOK's four-year mandate.

    Asked to comment on Mr. Papandreou's statements that "circles both abroad and in Greece preferred more and smaller parties in Parliament" Mr. Hytiris said the premier's statements reflected "the general feeling."

    In statements after PASOK's Political Secretariat meeting under Mr. Papandreou's chairmanship, the premier said these circles did not want Parliament to be an effective tool of government.

    "The government fears nothing," Mr. Hytiris said in reply to press questions on whether the government feared action by "the circles" which prefer more and smaller parties in Parliament.

    He added that PASOK will win elections outright, when these are held in 1997 and under the existing electoral law.

    [11] Commission takes Greece to court over over-taxed second-hand car imports

    Brussels, 27/10/1995 (ANA - G. Daratos):

    The European Commission will take Greece to the European Court in November to oblige it to reduce exorbitant taxes and tariffs imposed on imported second-hand cars.

    The Commission had prepared a case against Greece last June, but wanted to give the country a last chance to comply with Community rules before resorting to the European Court.

    Second-hand cars imported from other European Union countries are subject to unfavorable tax and tariff treatment in relation to second-hand cars sold in Greece.

    The charges run counter to article 95 of a treaty according to which "no member-state can impose internal taxes of whatever nature either directly or indirectly on the products of other member-states which will be higher than those burdening similar national products either directly or indirectly."

    "No member-state can impose internal taxes on the products of other member-states whose nature leads indirectly to protection for other products."

    The direct result of the decision, expected to be issued after 12 to 15 months at the latest, will be a sharp decrease in the sale price of second-hand cars in Greece, an increase in their sales and a corresponding decrease in the sales of new cars.

    [12] Zhelev champions 'para-Egnatia' highway

    Sofia, 27/10/1995 (ANA - N. Chios):

    Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev yesterday championed the proclamation by him and the presidents of Albania, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to build a "para-Egnatia" highway.

    Earlier, Mr. Zhelev had met US Ambassador to Sofia Ull Montgomery who expressed the US government's full support for the initiative to build the East-West axis, the official name for the motorway.

    Mr. Zhelev said the US government had been committed to the implementation of the plan since February 1995 when, in a joint announ-cement issued on the occasion of Mr. Zhelev's visit to Washington, US President Bill Clinton "promised economic support for a start to research work."

    Mr. Montgomery said that his government would request Congress approve funds amounting to $30 million for feasibility studies. He said the plan to build the East-West axis was workable, adding that it corresponded to efforts being made by US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke for the post-war recovery of the Balkan peninsula.

    In a message to the nation, Mr. Zhelev reminded that the proclamation of the four presidents did not only concern the building of a highway but a "road, telecommunications and energy corridor linking the Black Sea with the Adriatic" and would pass through Istanbul, Burgas, Sofia, Skopje, Tirana, Durres and reach Brindisi.

    Mr. Zhelev said EU Commissioner Hans van den Broek, apart from his presence at the signing of the four presidents' proclamation, set out "his high appreciation for the initiative and promised support by the political and economic institutions of the European Union."

    The Bulgarian president disclosed that the initiative met with approval by the representatives of Slovenia and Croatia, adding that "the initiative is completely open to all who wish to join their efforts and is not directed against any Balkan country."

    Mr. Zhelev spoke of efforts at confrontation between east-west and north-south corridors, terming them "unfounded." He said "Bulgaria always supported the building of both corridors as being extremely necessary for the execution of obligations assumed."

    His comments came despite the preference expressed by the government of Prime Minister Jean Videnov for the north-south axis.

    On Monday, Greece said the funds were secured and work already underway for the Egnatia Highway, a top-priority Inter-European network project to run from the port of Igoumenitsa to Alexandroupolis. Transport Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the planned East-West axis was simply a 'para-Egnatia'.

    [13] Stratos says '96 crucial year for Greek economy, no time for slacker policies

    Athens, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Jason Stratos expressed the view yesterday that the government would not relax its economic policy in 1996 but, in negotiations on private sector salaries, would make efforts to protect the purchasing power o f workers.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Mr. Stratos said that priority should be given to attaining the targets of the economic convergence programme for 1996 "which will be the most critical year for the Greek economy, since it will show whether it is capable of entering a developmental orbit."

    "It is not the year for a slackening of economic policy," Mr. Stratos said. "What is to be hoped for is that the purchasing power of workers is preserved."

    Mr. Papantoniou said it was quite clear that the government did not intervene in negotiations on collective labor agreements but rather "brings to the attention of the social partners the situation of the Greek economy so that both sides may make an assessment."

    "The result of the negotiations affects the course of the economy," Mr. Papantoniou added.

    [14] EKO interest in Plastika Kavalas brings hope of reopening plant

    Athens, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    Industry Minister Anastasios Peponis yesterday gave the green light for a possible reopening of the Plastika Kavalas plant after his meeting with representatives from the city of Kavala.

    Specifically, the minister ordered the Hellenic Fuel and Mineral Oils Group (EKO) to submit a study on the unit's viability as soon as possible.

    EKO figures as the primary buyer of the factory from the Petsetakis group.

    The General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), along with representatives of the plastic factory's workers, applauded the industry ministry's move.

    EKO has been interested in Plastika Kavalas since 1989.

    [15] News in Brief

    Athens, 27/10/1995 (ANA):

    - Greece said yesterday that it was "unswervingly" adhering to the regulations dictated by the international community concerning the export of goods to third countries bordering former Yugoslavia. Foreign Ministry spokesman Costas Bikas made the statement when asked to comment on press reports claiming that Greece was violating the regulations.

    - Government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris said yesterday that Skopje's recent stance "has neither hardened nor softened" in responses to questions on whether certain actions by FYROM's leadership could be viewed as more hard-line. Mr. Hytiris reiterated that only negotiations in New York on the name of the neighboring one-time Yugoslav republic are pending.

    End of English language section.

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