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A.N.A. Bulletin, 10/11/95

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 737), November 10, 1995

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Commission shelves Neorion shipyard file

  • [2] Vance, Zacharakis confer on FYROM name talks at UN

  • [3] FYROM, Ukraine join Council of Europe

  • [4] No objections to FYROM membership in NATO peace programme

  • [5] Europarliament Socialists say they will support postponing decision on EU-Turkey customs union

  • [6] Ethiopian refugee overpowered after hijack attempt

  • [7] Venizelos

  • [8] Kinnock confers with Katsifaras, Venizelos on transport issues

  • [9] Greece stands firm on war reparations issue

  • [10] Press employees call three-hour work stoppage

  • [11] Vartholomeos calls for peace in Balkans, unity amongst churches

  • [12] Bosnian Serb officials look to Greece to help war homeless

  • [13] Premier requests an honorary Olympiad for Greece

  • [14] Samaranch leads Athens discussion on Olympic Games marketing

  • [15] PASOK centrists meet for dinner

  • [16] PASOK MPs call for changes in parliamentary group's operation

  • [17] Trade unionists gear up for more protests after failed talks with Papadopoulos

  • [18] Bilateral discussions on oil pipeline project continue, Bikas says

  • [19] OTE spearheads telecommunications development programme


  • [1] Commission shelves Neorion shipyard file

    Brussels, 10/11/1995 (ANA - F. Stangos):

    The European Commission announced its decision to terminate the process to recover state subsidies to the Neorion Shipyards on the island of Syros begun in February 1994.

    The Commission was claiming the return of subsidies granted to Neorion in the form of a write-off of debts amounting to 16.5 billion drachmas.

    The European Commission had also raised the issue of the Skaramangas Shipyards at the same time, calling on the government to go ahead with the privatization of the two shipyards or the re-registration of their debts.

    The announcement yesterday said the Greek government had fulfilled its commitments through the successful transfer of the Syros shipyards to a private company.

    On the question of Skaramangas, the Commission noted that it was still in the process of examining the proposal to transfer 49 per cent of the enterprise to workers and the controlling stake to the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA).

    The Commission said it would not take a final decision until the Greek government submits a business plan proving the shipyards' prospects of viability and effectiveness. It said the deadline for a decision ends January 11 next year.

    [2] Vance, Zacharakis confer on FYROM name talks at UN

    United Nations, 10/11/1995 (ANA - M. Georgiadou):

    Greece's permanent representative at the UN Christos Zacharakis met UN mediator Cyrus Vance at 7:30pm (Greek time) yesterday, immediately after his return from Athens.

    The meeting was held as part of consultations anticipated by article five of the interim agreement between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on the question of the state's name.

    In Athens earlier yesterday, the foreign ministry said that there would soon be developments on the issue of the name.

    Spokesman Costas Bikas made the statement when asked if the ministry was "concerned" by the delay in the talks on the name issue between Athens and Skopje.

    "The issue of the talks on the name is one in which there is interest on all sides, both on the part of the special mediator Cyrus Vance and the two interested parties," Mr. Bikas added.

    [3] FYROM, Ukraine join Council of Europe

    Strasbourg, 10/11/1995 (ANA - G. Zarkadis):

    The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Ukraine joined the Council of Europe yesterday, taking the organization's membership to 38.

    At the accession ceremony, the two countries' foreign ministers ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and accepted the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

    FYROM is the second state of the former Yugoslavia to join after Slovenia and will have three seats on the Council.

    FYROM's Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski refused to sign the accession minutes in which his country was referred to as FYROM and instead submitted a unilateral statement of the accession terms, including the use of the temporary FYROM name.

    "The procedure that has been followed for FYROM's accession confirmed the success of the Greek parliamentary delegation to the Plenary of the Parliamentary Assembly, in September, which decided to grant accession to Skopje under the temporary name, FYROM," Alternate Foreign Minister George Romeos, representing Greece at the ceremony, told the ANA.

    In September, Athens and Skopje signed an interim accord to normalize relations between the two nations. Both countries agreed to respect the other's sovereignty, territorial integrity and political dependence.

    The name issue is still pending between the two neighbors. "We sincerely hope that both countries (Ukraine and FYROM) will be able to fully use the possibilities offered ...by the Council of Europe, to establish the democratic institutions in Central and Eastern European countries," Mr. Romeos said in his address. "I take this opportunity," Mr. Romeos added, "to stress Greece's commitment to fully implementing the interim accord, signed in New York with FYROM."

    "This commitment was confirmed during recent talks with representatives of the neighboring country, which resulted in the construction of a stable basis for future co-operation," the minister said.

    "I wish to stress that we expect FYROM to show goodwill and flexibility in negotiations for the name, as this is provided in the interim accord," he added.

    Commenting on various programmes implemented by the Council of Europe and aiming at reinforcing the former Soviet bloc countries, Mr. Romeos said that "Greece, which geographically belongs to the Balkans, wishes for a part of this aid to be allocated to the Balkan countries, either to new members or those who have submitted an application membership."

    "We support the organization's contribution to the democratic reconstruction of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the other war-stricken regions of former Yugoslavia, as well as their participation in a common European programme for the Mediterranean basin," he added.

    [4] No objections to FYROM membership in NATO peace programme

    Brussels, 10/11/1995 (ANA - G. Daratos):

    A deadline for NATO member-states to express reservations on the admission of FYROM into the alliance's Partnership for Peace programme passed yesterday without any objections surfacing.

    In broad terms, the programme entails military co-operation between the alliance and eastern European countries and former Soviet republics.

    Greece did not object to the former Yugoslav republic's inclusion because of its commitment stemming from an interim agreement signed with the Skopje government on September 13.

    Besides regular briefings between NATO members and former communist nations on defense and other issues, the Partnership for Peace programme calls for organization of military exercises, military personnel training and small-scale funding by the alliance.

    [5] Europarliament Socialists say they will support postponing decision on EU-Turkey customs union

    Brussels, 10/11/1995 (ANA - M. Savva):

    The Europarliament's Socialist Group will back a proposal for postponement of discussions and a vote on the EU-Turkey customs union.

    For the customs union to take effect on January 1, 1996 the Europarliament's general assembly would have to first give its consent. However, several Eurodeputies in the body's foreign affairs committee recently called for postponement during deliberations following a report by Spanish EuroMP Carlos Carnero.

    Pre-election uncertainty in Turkey was cited as one of the reasons for proposing a postponement.

    Because the Socialist Group controls the largest percentage of seats in the Europarliament, momentum toward postponement appears to be gaining. A final decision on the matter will occur after other EU political groups announce their decision.

    [6] Ethiopian refugee overpowered after hijack attempt

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    Anti-terrorist police overpowered a 34-year-old Ethiopian man holding an Olympic Airways air hostess at knife-point early yesterday morning, shortly after the plane landed at Athens airport.

    The man, identified later as Melaku Mekebebe, took the woman hostage as the Boeing 747 airliner was preparing to land in Athens.

    Mekebebe was later charged with using violence on an aircraft in flight, unlawful detention and illegal possession and use of a weapon.

    The plane with 114 passengers and crew was flying over the island of Hios, en route from Bangkok, when the Ethiopian grabbed the stewardess and placed the knife at her throat.

    "He held the stewardess at knife-point for almost two hours," one passenger said.

    Mekebebe said he was being forced to go back to Ethiopia after being expelled by the Australian authorities and demanded to talk to the press and UN officials on landing in Athens.

    Three plainclothes police, one of them a woman, who boarded the airliner posing as journalists, disarmed the hijacker when he started talking to the press.

    Mekebebe told police that he used a forged passport to go Kenya after serving a six-month prison term in Ethiopia for writing articles against the regime.

    After staying for a while in Kenya, he went to London, where as he told police, a friend supplied him with another forged passport for which he paid T900, and went to Sydney on an Olympic flight.

    Mr. Mekebebe, who claimed he has a wife and a child living in the US, said he tore up his forged passport on arrival in Sydney and told the local authorities that he was a political refugee.

    But Australian police rejected his claim and charged him with illegal entry into Australia for which he was later sentenced to six months in jail, declared "undesirable" and ordered expelled.

    He was put on the Olympic plane bound for Athens since, in accordance with international rules, he had to leave the country on the same carrier with which he entered the country. He told police that he wanted to protest to the press against the regime in Ethiopia.

    [7] Venizelos

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    Transport and Communications Minister Evangelos Venizelos later sent a letter to the Civil Aviation Authority, the Greek Police, the Fire Brigade and Olympic Airways, congratulating them on the "cool-headed, rapid and effective" manner in which they dealt with the hijack attempt.

    In particular, Mr. Venizelos congratulated the stewardess, Sofia Mastellou, the pilot, co-pilot and crew of the aircraft.

    Mr. Venizelos also praised the mass media for the "highly responsible" way in which they handled the incident which contributed to the successful outcome.

    [8] Kinnock confers with Katsifaras, Venizelos on transport issues

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    European Union Transport Commissioner Neil Kinnock yesterday briefed Merchant Marine Minister George Katsifaras on the Commission's tentative views concerning future strategy in the sector of sea transport, to be published by the end of the year.

    The two men also exchanged views on Commission proposals concerning the safety of navigation and short-distance shipping.

    Mr. Kinnock will also have talks today with Transport and Communications Minister Evangelos Venizelos on European transport policy, the transit of Greek products, the rehabilitation of the national carrier Olympic Airways and other issues.

    Mr. Kinnock is also scheduled to have talks with Alternate Foreign Minister George Romeos.

    [9] Greece stands firm on war reparations issue

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    The foreign ministry yesterday reiterated Greece's positions on the issue of war reparations from Germany, saying that the government was acting "with consistency, determination and a sense of responsibility."

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Costas Bikas added that the government was also acting on the basis "of its declared position concerning the legitimacy of its demands regarding war damages from Germany."

    Mr. Bikas' statement follows an announcement by Bonn Wednesday refusing to consider Greek claims for war damages. The announcement was issued as a reply to a written question by Party of Democratic Socialism deputy Ula Yelpke on German war reparations a rising from the Nazi occupation of Greece during World War II.

    "Fifty years after the end of the war... the issue of reparations is inopportune. Following the end of World War II and on the basis of international law, Germany has paid, to a great degree, reparations to citizens of the countries it occupied," Bonn's reply said.

    The issue came to the fore recently with a campaign led by local government bodies in Greece encouraging the filing of suits by Greek citizens seeking compensation for loss of life of relatives and damage to property during the Nazi occupation.

    Bonn last month returned civil suits served on the German Foreign Ministry by some 1,000 Greek citizens.

    "Greece attaches importance to the issue of German war reparations and the occupation loan (which Athens was forced to extend to the Nazis)," Mr. Bikas said yesterday.

    The spokesman added however that Germany is a "friend and ally and as a partner in the European Union is linked to Greece by a wide variety of firm ties."

    Press and Media Minister Telemahos Hytiris later reiterated that the war reparations issue remained open as far as Greece was concerned.

    "Greece has its own very strong arguments and, with a sense of responsibility and seriousness, will seek that to which it is historically entitled, naturally in accordance with the principles of international justice," Mr. Hytiris said.

    [10] Press employees call three-hour work stoppage

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    A three-hour work stoppage and mobilization for November 20 was called yesterday by representatives of press and mass media employees.

    The actions stem from non-payment over the last seven months of an advertising tax by media proprietors to the tune of 21 billion drachmas. Union representatives say the huge debt threatens several health and pension plans with insolvency.

    In addition, employees demand the abolition of Article 12 of Law 2328/95, which transfers responsibility for payment of the ad tax from owners to advertising agencies and clients.

    Employees believe that neither outstanding debts or the ad tax will be collected if the new law is applied.

    [11] Vartholomeos calls for peace in Balkans, unity amongst churches

    Paris, 10/11/1995 (ANA - J. Zitouniati):

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos yesterday called for peace in the Balkans and the unity of all Christian churches.

    "We are against any solution allowing (the use of) violence and weapons," Vartholomeos told Gre-ek and foreign reporters on the last day of his official visit to France.

    He added that the Orthodox Church accepted dialogue as the only means to solution.

    "For Orthodoxy there is no sacred war, no matter where it comes from," Vartholomeos said. "The war in Bosnia is not waged for religious reasons, even though it appears to be such since the warring parties have different religions."

    "We express our grief for the victims of the war on all sides," he added.

    Questioned whether the Ecumenical Patriarchate had at all assumed a political role since the collapse of communism in eastern Europe, he said this impression may have been formed, but the Patriarchate did not intend to engage in politics.

    "Our mission is only spiritual, religious, cultural, social, if you like, but not political," he said.

    Turning to other issues, Vartholomeos said the results of his official visit to France were "very positive, especially regarding rapprochement between the Orthodox and Catholic churches."

    He stressed the importance of unity of all autocephalus Orthodox churches, as well as the unity of all Christian churches "both Catholic and Protestant."

    He described the Russian Orthodox Church's recent abstention from celebrations marking the 1,900th anniversary of the writing of the Book of Revelations by St. John the Divine on the island of Patmos, as an "isolationist attitude".

    Vartholomeos was due to have meetings with the President of the Senate and the Paris Mayor before departing for Iraklion, Crete.

    The Patriarch will visit Iraklion in order to attend events marking the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Church of St. Minas and have meetings with members of the Crete Regional Holy Synod and Iraklion Authorities officials.

    The Patriarch is expected to return to Phanar on Monday.

    [12] Bosnian Serb officials look to Greece to help war homeless

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    A Bosnian-Serb delegation yesterday appealed to the Greek government, people and the Greek Orthodox Church for assistance in providing shelter for tens of thousands homeless.

    The delegation, led by the Vice-President of the self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Bosnia Biliana Plavcic, made the appeal at a press conference following talks with Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and Archbishop Serapheim of Athens and All Greece.

    "Greece always maintains relations with all the parties to the conflict in former Yugoslavia and communication is kept open as part of efforts to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the issue," foreign ministry spokesman Costas Bikas said when asked about the talks between Mr. Papoulias and Ms Plavcic.

    Mr. Seraphim's representative, Ioannis Hatzifotis, said that the Archbishop had instructed the competent church bodies to respond immediately to the Bosnian-Serb appeal.

    Ms Plavcic said he four-year war had devastated Bosnia and the tragedy had taken on enormous proportions.

    Ms Plavcic said that two-thirds of Bosnian-Serb settlements had been destroyed, resulting in 350,000 homeless refugees.

    Presenting a programme for the "Reconstruction of settlements in the Serbian Republic of Bosnia," Ms Plavcic said that it must be implemented in co-operation with Greece.

    Ms Plavcic said that the convoys of Bosnian-Serb refugees had frequently been bombed by the enemy, while newly-elected prime minister Raiko Kasagic spoke of the crimes which have been perpetrated by Moslems against Bosnian Serbs.

    Mr. Kasagic accused sections of the international media of discriminating against the Bosnian Serbs in favor of Moslems. said.

    [13] Premier requests an honorary Olympiad for Greece

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou yesterday asked visiting International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch that Greece be assigned the organization of an honorary Olympiad.

    Mr. Samaranch did not commit himself in any way, and said Greece ought to submit its proposal within 15 days, and in the event it is not accepted, to submit a file of candidacy by January 10.

    After the meeting, the prime ministers said:

    "The thing I commit myself to and promise to do is to support with all means this efforts, with the government undertaking the responsibility given that the Greek Olympic Committee and the Mayor of Athens submit the necessary application.

    "We will support the cause and undertake the costs. It is very important for the Greek people and for our youth".

    [14] Samaranch leads Athens discussion on Olympic Games marketing

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    A one-day seminar on marketing the Olympic Games took place yesterday in a downtown Athens hotel in the presence of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch, government officials and representatives of several athletic federations.

    The concepts behind the international marketing of Olympic symbols and emblems was presented by the president of the European Olympic Committees Jacques Rogue, while Greece's Olympic Committee Vice-President, Marton Simitsek, presented proposals and goals for the Greek committee's financial support.

    Mr. Simitsek also referred to events commemorating the 100th anniversary since the beginning of the modern Olympic Games. Events culminate on April 6 at the Panathinaikon Stadium in Athens with the re-enactment of the first modern Olympics, held in the same venue in 1896.

    At the re-enactment games, the same athletic events by the same number of athletes from the first participating countries (Greece, the United States, Australia, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Britain, Hungary and Sweden) will take place.

    Prior, the lighting of the Olympic flame in Olympia is scheduled for March 30 with a torch-bearing tour in Greece passing through several cities, some of which organized Olympic Games in antiquity.

    According to Greek Olympic Committee officials, the torch will pass through the following Greek cities: Pyrgos, Kyparissia, Meligala, Eua, Messini, Kalamata, Sparta, Tegea, Nafplio, Argos, Corinth, Kiato, Xylokastro, Akrata, Egio, Patra, Mesolongi, Nafpakto, Galaxidi, Itea, Amfissa, Delphi, Livadeia, Plateaes, Erythres, Thebes, Vergina, Veria, Naousa, Edessa, Yiannitsa, ancient Pella, Thessaloniki and Marathon.

    On April 6 the Olympic flame reaches Athens where a torch-bearing ceremony in the centre of the city will occur, before the last runner reaches the all-marble stadium the same night. A large ceremony will follow.

    Subsequently, the flame will be transported on a specially fitted airplane to every city that has held an Olympiad since 1896, where a special altar in each city will retain the flame until the end of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

    [15] PASOK centrists meet for dinner

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    In the wake of reactions to the television interview by the prime minister's wife Dimitra Liani-Papandreou on Monday night, about 50 centrist PASOK members, including 28 deputies, several former ministers, and former deputy prime minister Ioannis Haralambopoulos met for dinner at a taverna in Athens on Wednesday night.

    Although most participants spoke of a social event, it was obvious that it was not devoid of political significance.

    Mr. Haralambopoulos said it was a gathering of long-time friends, working for the unity of the party, and it was natural for them to discuss politics. Referring to a photograph appropriately placed on the wall, he said prime minister Andreas Papandreou, the late parliament president Yiannis Alevras and himself were connected through 35 years of long struggles and friendship.

    Speaking to the Macedonian Press Agency in Thessaloniki yesterday, former minister Stelios Papathemelis described the gathering as a "message of profound concern and decisiveness with regard to current developments and the situation which PASOK and the government are in".

    "These members," he continued, "wish to fight against this climate of decline, as long as there is time. This is possible today. It will not be possible tomorrow."

    He declined to comment on Mrs. Liani-Papandreou's interview, saying "what is obvious to the eye, needs no comment".

    Government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris yesterday also declined to comment on the gathering, adding that there was no concern about the future of the party. PASOK's parliamentary group is due to meet on Monday.

    [16] PASOK MPs call for changes in parliamentary group's operation

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    Several ruling PASOK deputies will deliver a proposal today for changes in the operation of the party's parliamentary group to Dimitris Beis, the group's secretary.

    The majority of the deputies signing the proposal reportedly lean toward the "group of four" party dissenters, although some of the deputies belong to other factions, including the so-called centrists.

    MPs signing the proposal say the initiative will contribute to the political upgrading of the functioning of the parliamentary group.

    Some of the operational changes include convening the group with the secretary's consent or through a signed request by deputies as opposed to only through an initiative by PASOK's president, as is the case today.

    Other changes would elect the parliamentary group secretary through direct voting and not by an executive council, while Parliament representatives would also be elected and not assigned by the party president, among others.

    [17] Trade unionists gear up for more protests after failed talks with Papadopoulos

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    Trade union representatives yesterday told Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos that they were determined to continue their labor action in the public and private sectors in support of demands for higher pay.

    Mr. Papadopoulos had talks yesterday with the presidiums of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) on demands for real increases in salaries and pensions, tax relief and an in crease in social spending in the State budget. GSEE President Christos Protopappas said that the conclusion drawn from the meeting with Mr. Papadopoulos was that the 1996 State budget would be "trapped in the logic of unilateral stabilization and austerity."

    Mr. Protopappas said that there would be changes in the taxation system which would make it even more unjust for workers since tax increases on drinks, cigarettes and fuel would be linked to the price index, while the tax scale for income tax would not be index-linked.

    "This means that the beasts of burden will again be called upon to pay higher taxes in 1996," Mr. Protopappas said.

    He added that the 1996 budget would be "trapped" within the strict confines of the convergence programme also with respect to social spending "which I am afraid will lead to social unrest."

    "Our proposals have not been accepted," Mr. Protopappas said.

    The trade union leader said that labor action would be intensified beginning with a three-hour work stoppage by ADEDY members on November 14 and a joint GSEE-ADEDY rally on November 23.

    ADEDY President Yiannis Koutsoukos echoed Mr. Protopappas' positions, saying that "we are not prepared to accept a drop in workers' income." Mr. Koutsoukos added that the finance minister had reiterated that the interest earned on State securities would not be taxed.

    [18] Bilateral discussions on oil pipeline project continue, Bikas says

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    The details of the execution of major projects, such as the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, will be worked in the process of discussions between Sofia and Athens, foreign ministry spokesman Costas Bikas said yesterday.

    Mr. Bikas was responding to questions regarding reports that the Bulgarian deputy premier had said the Bulgarian side must insist on its terms if the project is to continue. "Progress in the procedures is an issue which is being closely monitored by the Greek government, since it is a major strategic plan on which the interested parties have reached agreement," Mr. Bikas said.

    "We are therefore following developments within the framework of the agreement which has been concluded," he ended.

    [19] OTE spearheads telecommunications development programme

    Athens, 10/11/1995 (ANA):

    The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) will go ahead with its development programme after a Council of State plenary session ruled that a draft Presidential Decree on developing OTE's activities was legal both in the framework of rendering exclusive services (with stable telecommunications services, a digital network and a satellite network) and the framework of free competition (mobile telephony).

    The draft Presidential Decree provides OTE with the possibility of maintaining a monopoly in the development and exploitation in the country of new technology applied in telecommunications through the use of satellite networks and which ranges from telephony to the broadcasting of radio and TV programmes and transferring data.

    End of English language section.

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