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A.N.A. Bulletin, 04/11/95

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 732), November 4, 1995

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Papadopoulos tells Greek industrialists to trust in economy and invest

  • [2] Stephanopoulos in Bucharest: Balkans need road axes, not political axes

  • [3] Stephanopoulos - Vacaroiu

  • [4] Executive Bureau to reconvene soon

  • [5] Talks for founding of new party continue, Papaconstantinou says

  • [6] Kaklamanis lashes out at absent ministers

  • [7] Samaras calls for referendum on FYROM issue

  • [8] Reactions to Mitsotakis claims in new book continue

  • [9] Mitsotakis response

  • [10] Government statement

  • [11] Evert statement

  • [12] Parliament debates farm issues

  • [13] Gov't comments on EU customs union with Turkey

  • [14] Health Ministry issues urgent call to patients of bogus doctor to seek help

  • [15] Three jailed for fuel scam

  • [16] ND critical of new health system reorganization

  • [17] Fishermen to meet Akritidis on Monday to resolve fishing dispute

  • [18] German travel group criticizes Greek airport facilities


  • [1] Papadopoulos tells Greek industrialists to trust in economy and invest

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos yesterday used blunt language to spur Greek industrialists into undertaking bolder investment initiatives, saying their present record did not measure up to the favorable conditions created by the government's economic policy.

    "Why do you keep markets impassive and sluggish?" he asked his audience at a one-day event on the challenges to the Greek economy posed by the revision of the Maastricht Treaty, organized by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Studies (IOBE) at the Hilton Hotel.

    He pointed out that the budget had, after many years, been executed according to plan in 1994 and 1995, interest rates had fallen by more than 10 percentage points in a year, inflation was around the 8.0 per cent mark, that public debt as a percentage o f GDP had come down for the first time in years, and that GNP was poised for a lift off from stagnation in 1994, to a 2.0 per cent growth this year, and 2.5 per cent in 1996.

    He noted, however, that the dependence of the balance of payments on European Union financial inflows, amounting to about 5.0 per cent of GDP, was one negative development, which posed the danger of a sudden increase in deficits when their phasing out begins in 1999, and a consequent sharp rise in interest rates in order to protect the drachma.

    In order to avert such a scenario, which would cause unemployment to shoot up, Mr. Papadopoulos said, entrepreneurs had to mobilize themselves productively.

    "This constitutes their elementary obligation," he said, noting a considerable increase in profits lately.

    "It is not possible that the cost of stabilization, and, consequently of convergence (with other European economies), is permanently borne by working people," he added.

    The minister also spoke of "painful repercussions in the labor sector", of inevitable company closures, and of possible lay-offs in public utilities, besides privatization schemes, in order to face the productivity deficit' which is a brake on real convergence.

    Despite this, he said that social cohesion would be maintained at all costs.

    At the same time, he asked trade unions to "facilitate" entrepreneurs in their investment efforts, maintaining social peace, and offering the necessary framework of stability, as what was urgently needed was a redistribution of wealth in favor of investment.

    This was not a comforting prospect, he admitted, but it offered a sound future.

    He said the convergence programme was an 'Economic Constitution', providing the assurance that "the government would not accept the country's self-exclusion from the process of European integration," and had no option but to draw the budget for 1996 on the basis of this criterion.

    Mr. Papadopoulos said the government's persistence along this course would enable Greece to meet the criteria for nominal convergence by the year 2000, with the exception of that of public debt, which is expected to fall to 100 per cent of GDP, from 114 per cent now, with the prospect for falling to 60 per cent by 2010.

    He added that the country would obviously not be ready for full participation in the Economic and Monetary Union in the first instance (on the basis of projected 1997 indicators), and would be able to ask for participation in the common currency by 2010 .

    Leading Greek industrialists who spoke at the conference called for an intensification of efforts for convergence with other European economies, that will ensure that the country will be able to participate in the third and final phase of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), beginning on January 1, 1999.

    IOBE president and former president of the Greek Industries Federation (SEB), Dimitris Marinopoulos said industrialists were in favor of the country's speedy application of the common currency, stressing that "a possible delay would again feed a dangerous relaxation of vigilance". He acknowledged that the government had recorded successes in reducing inflation and deficits, but noted that both indicators remained at a level twice as high as the Community averages.

    Former SEB president Theodoros Papalexopoulos said that "Greece's participation in the EMU as of January 1, 1999 may be difficult, but not unfeasible, and we must pursue it.

    He called for "consensus among the main political forces on the strategy to be followed".

    EU internal market commissioner Mario Monti, who also spoke at the conference, said Greece's participation in the common currency could be realized only if the necessary criteria of convergence were met.

    Nevertheless, he added, those countries which will be left outside the hard core of the EMU to be formed at a first phase, will continue participating normally in the single market

    "There will be no separate rules for those who are inside and those outside, because the single market is one, and will continue applying in the whole of the EU, irrespective of how many countries participate in the common currency initially," he said.

    Mr. Monti said that EU enlargement with the countries of central and eastern Europe will be to the ultimate interest of Greece, which has a comparative geographical advantage.

    [2] Stephanopoulos in Bucharest: Balkans need road axes, not political axes

    Bucharest, 4/11/1995 (ANA - N. Megadoukas):

    Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos said yesterday that Greece was opposed to "the formation of (political) axes " in the Balkans and that efforts should focus on regional co-operation and development.

    He was speaking during the second day of an official three-day visit to Romania, during which the Greek and Romanian foreign ministers signed a bilateral cultural co-operation agreement.

    "The Balkans are in need of road axes, not political axes," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

    Balkan co-operation should be based on "an honest relationship between all the states of the peninsula, relations which will allow differences to be solved through good will and on the basis of international law."

    At the same time, speaking at a reception given by Greece's Ambassador in Bucharest, Christos Alexandris, Romanian President Ion Iliescu said that Greek-Romanian friendship could form the basis of "an axis of stability in this part of the world".

    Mr. Iliescu reiterated his country's desire for the strengthening of Greek-Romanian friendship in all sectors "in order to ensure stability, peace and security in the Balkans and Europe."

    At a joint press conference later in the day following the signing of a cultural co-operation agreement, Mr. Iliescu told reporters that Athens and Bucharest supported the lifting of the embargo against former Yugoslavia and affirmed that both countries would be part of reconstruction efforts in the neighboring country.

    Asked whether he would be supportive of the formation of an Eastern Orthodox Athens-Bucharest-Moscow axis, Mr. Stephanopoulos said Orthodoxy as a 'dogma' prevailed in the Balkan region but should not mingle with politics.

    "Neither Orthodoxy or the Balkans are in need of axes or any such alliances," the president said.

    He added that "Greece respected Orthodoxy as much as it respected other denominations, (the supporters of which) are free to exercise their rights in Greece."

    At the joint press conference following the signing by Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and his Romanian counterpart Teodor Melescanu of the cultural co-operation agreement, Mr. Iliescu told reporters that Athens and Bucharest shared the same views regarding solutions to problems on both a regional and European level.

    "I hope that things will change so that Greece and Romania will be allowed to participate in restructuring procedures in former Yugoslavia," Mr. Iliescu said.

    He emphasized the "common desire" by the two countries to continue their "close co-operation, a co-operation that constitutes a stabilizing factor for peace and security in the region".

    He stressed the necessity for the construction of road axes "which will allow further development of financial and trade co-operation between the Balkan countries and allow the region to become a zone of prosperity, stability and safety".

    Greek-Romanian trade and economic co-operation will facilitate the construction of such axes, he said.

    President Stephanopoulos described bilateral relations as "a model to be followed by other Balkan and European countries".

    [3] Stephanopoulos - Vacaroiu

    Bucharest, 4/11/1995 (ANA - N. Megadoukas):

    Mr. Stephanopoulos had talks earlier yesterday with Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu on bilateral relations and Bucharest's efforts to accede to Euro-Atlantic bodies. He assured Mr. Vacaroiu of Greece's continuing support for its efforts.

    Speaking to Greek reporters, Mr. Vacaroiu said that NATO could play an important role in maintaining peace in the region and in Europe in general. He expressed the view that through NATO "we could avoid conflict in the region such as that in former Yugoslavia."

    Referring to the dispute between Bucharest and Sofia regarding the location of the bridge to be constructed over the Danube, Mr. Vacoroiu said that "certain circles" in Bulgaria agreed with the location proposed by Romania.

    He expressed the hope that the dispute between the two countries would soon be settled.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos is expected to return to Athens tonight.

    [4] Executive Bureau to reconvene soon

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    Yesterday's meeting of the ruling PASOK Executive Bureau remained unfinished and will be reconvened in the next few days, according to PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis.

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos attended the meeting, which focused on the government's economic policy prior to submission of the 1996 state budget.

    According to sources, however, the meeting will be scheduled after the Central Committee's session on November 20 and before the new budget is tabled in Parliament at the end of the month.

    [5] Talks for founding of new party continue, Papaconstantinou says

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    Independent deputy Mihalis Papaconstantinou reiterated yesterday that there were moves afoot for the formation of a new political party.

    Speaking to reporters in Thessaloniki, the former New Democracy foreign minister said it was impossible to tell at the present time when the new political group would make its appearance.

    "The (present) parties must adjust to present day conditions or they will not survive," he said. "The people have turned their backs on the existing political system".

    Asked whether former prime minister and honorary ND president Constantine Mitsotakis was involved in discussions, Mr. Papaconstantinou said: "Mr. Mitsotakis himself stated, and let's not criticize him for this, that he desires the strengthening of ND".

    Mr. Papaconstantinou said those involved in the preliminary discussions included deputies, Eurodeputies, academics, businessmen and ordinary citizens.

    [6] Kaklamanis lashes out at absent ministers

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis strongly criticized ministers Costas Laliotis, Costas Geitonas and George Daskalakis for being absent from Parliament during a discussion on topical issues raised by opposition deputies.

    Mr. Kaklamanis struck off the five issues raised for discussion, applying "the regulation with a degree of strictness", as he said, because both the aforesaid ministers and the deputies raising the issues were absent from Parliament.

    Referring to the absence of the deputies and ministers, Mr. Kaklamanis said the institution of Parliament was being degraded by the tactics of some, adding that "is it possible that we should have to suffer the consequences as well as the very institution we have been called on to serve due to a few?"

    [7] Samaras calls for referendum on FYROM issue

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    Any government decision on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is not necessarily a national commitment, Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras said yesterday in light of Monday's Parliament session on the issue.

    "(Prime Minister Andreas) Papandreou should know that a national commitment is created only with a referendum, or at least a decision by a new council meeting of political leaders," he said, adding: "And that isn't Political Spring's demand. It is a demand of the Greek people."

    Meanwhile, New Democracy deputy Christos Vyzovitis yesterday requested that more speakers be allowed the podium during Monday's Parliamentary deliberations on the Skopje issue.

    In a letter to Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, the ND deputy said MPs "who may have a different view" be allowed to state their positions on such a serious issue.

    [8] Reactions to Mitsotakis claims in new book continue

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    Close associates of former president Constantine Karamanlis yesterday replied t o comments by former premier Constantine Mitsotakis, who, in a new book released earlier this week, claims Mr. Karamanlis caved in to PASOK in early 1993 by failing to convene a political leaders council to discuss the Skopje issue.

    The response was the second within 48-hours by the Karamanlis camp.

    Sources close to the ex-president said "the council of political leaders is an unofficial entity not prescribed by the constitution, thus the President of the Republic is not obliged to call such a meeting when asked, nor are political leaders obliged to appear when invited."

    The same sources claim a specific meeting scheduled for January 1993 was canceled after Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary-General Aleka Papariga and ex-Coalition of the Left president Maria Damanaki declined to participate, citing then main opposition PASOK leader Andreas Papandreou's refusal to attend the meeting.

    According to the unnamed sources, "Mr. Mitsotakis had the same opinion, and with a statement on January 29, 1993, blamed Mr. Papandreou for cancellation of the meeting and not Mr. Karamanlis, as he is doing today."

    Former premier and New Democracy (ND) leader George Rallis also joined the fray yesterday, calling remarks by Mr. Mitsotakis on Thursday that he (Rallis) offered him (Mitsotakis) the Parliament president's spot prior to 1981's elections "shameless lies. "

    However, a statement from Mr. Mitsotakis' press office reiterated that "the incident occurred exactly as I described it".

    [9] Mitsotakis response

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    Sources close to the former premier and honorary ND president Mitsotakis said an answer will be given at a high-level Parliament session on Monday dealing with the Skopje issue.

    Mr. Mitsotakis is presently in Paris.

    [10] Government statement

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    Press Under-secretary Nikos Athanassakis yesterday underlined the government's agreement with Mr. Karamanlis' first statement on the reasons for canceling the January 1993 meeting.

    Mr. Athanassakis referred to a published letter at the time by Andreas Papandreou on the issue.

    Concerning prospects for convening a council of political leaders today, Mr. Athanassakis said such a possibility could always occur if the government judges there was sufficient reason, however, he added such an event is unlikely as there is nothing new from the previous phase of Athens-Skopje negotiations.

    [11] Evert statement

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    Speaking to reporters yesterday morning, New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert denied he was bothered by Thursday's appearance and speech by Mr. Mitsotakis at the Foreign Press Association.

    However, the ND president added: "A young child, the son of my building's concierge, told me that if those who managed the Skopje affair are not to blame for it, then my mother must be to blame, who's a common concierge. But the Greek people have a collective memory that is more than 10-years-old."

    Mr. Evert was referring to a statement by Mr. Mitsotakis during the latter's tenure as premier that the Skopje issue would be forgotten in 10 years.

    [12] Parliament debates farm issues

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    A debate was held in Parliament on agricultural issues yesterday after the issue was raised by 14 deputies from the main opposition New Democracy party.

    Deputies George Souflias, Thanassis Nakos, Andreas Karangounis and Thanassis Davakis criticised the government for indifference and lack of an agricultural policy.

    Mr. Souflias said the government was not taking measures to reduce the cost of agricultural products and at the same time was deducting resources from the Delors II Package destined for agriculture.

    Agriculture Minister Theodoros Stathis, however, accused ND of following a "disastrous" policy during the 1990-1993 period.

    Referring to the pensions issue, he reiterated that as of January 1, 1996, early retirement will be increased to 40,000 drachmas.

    "There will also be an improvement there concerning agricultural incomes," he said.

    On the question of farmers' labor action, Mr. Stathis said that "farmers have every right to take labor action. But they cannot demand Community subsidization on the one hand and demand that Community directives not be implemented on the other."

    [13] Gov't comments on EU customs union with Turkey

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    The European Parliament has set specific political conditions for approving the EU-Turkey customs union, government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said yesterday.

    The spokesman was commenting on statements by Turkish Premier Tansu Ciller who said that if the European Parliament withheld approval of the pact, it would encourage the actions of extremists in Turkey and neighboring countries.

    "The issue is not a bilateral one but rather concerns the relations between the European Union and Turkey," Mr. Athanassakis said.

    The spokesman said that the final decision on the customs union issue would be taken by the European Parliament since the Council of Ministers was competent only with respect to the formal conditions.

    Mr. Athanassakis revealed however that the recommendation of the Spanish president of the Council on the issue was negative.

    [14] Health Ministry issues urgent call to patients of bogus doctor to seek help

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    The Health Ministry issued an urgent call yesterday to patients of a bogus doctor to immediately stop taking the pills prescribed by him and seek medical treatment.

    A statement said the ministry was trying to contact patients of Belgian national Ivan Cozens because continued use of the drugs prescribed by him could mean death or serious illness for those suffering from certain heart conditions and thyroid problems.

    Cozens, who practiced in the exclusive neighborhood of Kolonaki in central Athens, is thought to be responsible for the death of at least six people in Germany and Belgium. The Greek police have been seeking Cozens for some time and Interpol has also been contacted.

    Greek experts said the pills prescribed by Cozens was tantamount to a "lethal cocktail" because they increased the patient's metabolism, thus giving the impression of weight loss, but increasing blood pressure at the same time.

    [15] Three jailed for fuel scam

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    Three customs service employees charged in a marine transit fuel scam were jailed Friday after a unanimous judicial decision prior to a trial. The case involves the alleged issuance of fake fuel delivery documents to non-existent yachts and pleasure craft s around Attica marinas last January.

    Prosecutors say 385 million drachmas in uncollected taxes was bilked through the fraud.

    Nikos Koutoulogenis, Panayiotis Pirpiris and Dimitrios Tziakos were transferred to Korydallos prison in Athens.

    [16] ND critical of new health system reorganization

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    The main opposition New Democracy party said yesterday the new bill reorganizing the National Health System (ESY), released by Health Minister Dimitrios Kremastinos several days ago, was like "fleeing into a vacuum."

    Addressing a press conference yesterday, ND cadres responsible for health issues said the new bill should have included entire proposals made by foreign experts invited by Mr. Kremastinos a year ago to examine the issue of health in the country.

    "The health minister selected fragmentarily only those proposals creating the least reactions for him," they said.

    ND said the bill was not accompanied by any economic and technical study at a time when even government members expressed reservations on whether the 120 billion drachmas required for changes could be found.

    [17] Fishermen to meet Akritidis on Monday to resolve fishing dispute

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    Truckers and fishermen nearly came to blows at the port of Aidipsos yesterday after fishermen insisted on blockading the ports of Aidipsos and Halkida to protest restrictions imposed on "gri-gri" type boats in the Maliakos Gulf and the Northern Evoikos Sea.

    Boat owners in the Evia prefecture are demanding the Fthiotida prefect revoke a decision imposing restrictions on "gri-gri" boats in the Maliakos Gulf and the Northern Evoikos Sea, taken to protect coastal fishing.

    The decision has been in effect since last May but two meetings between fishermen of all categories failed to reach an agreement, while a concession to allow them to fish migratory fish alone was rejected as inadequate. The fishermen have requested support from boats in Volos, Rafina and northern Greece and are threatening to blockade the entire Maliakos Gulf as well as the ports of Ayios Constantinos and Glyfa unless their demands are met.

    A meeting has been agreed with Agriculture Under-secretary Nikos Akritidis on Monday, with the participation of prefects in the area and fishermen's representatives, in an effort to break the deadlock.

    [18] German travel group criticizes Greek airport facilities

    Athens, 4/11/1995 (ANA):

    Greek airport facilities, especially on the islands, were harshly criticized Thursday by a high-ranking member of the German travel agencies' union during the group's annual meeting, held in Majorca.

    "Tourists have to wait for hours over their luggage, in narrow waiting areas with substandard sanitation. That is not the best advertisement for quality tourism," said Klaus Sayer, a member of the union's executive council.

    He added: "What really are the Greeks doing with the money from airport fees they collect from each tourist?"

    The criticisms follow complaints by the German pilots' association "Cockpit" over the summer who said Greek airports are lacking in safety.

    In speaking to Deutsche Velle's Greek service, Mr. Sayer added: "This is in no way an orchestrated attack against Greek tourism. Quite the opposite, Greece is a significant vacation destination for German tourists, that is why the union has addressed an appeal to its Greek colleagues to perform needed improvements in the services they offer."

    End of English language section.

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