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A.N.A. Bulletin, 15/11/95

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 741), November 15, 1995

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Inner cabinet set to rubber stamp new budget today

  • [2] Bonn refuses to consider Greek approach on loan, reparations issue

  • [3] Opposition responses

  • [4] Hytiris responds to Turkish foreign minister statements

  • [5] Greece welcomes WEU decision to form joint Mediterranean force

  • [6] Arsenis interview

  • [7] Lianis says Greece will await word on honorary Olympics request

  • [8] Evert confident of ND's rise to power in next elections

  • [9] Expatriates donate to Vergina excavations

  • [10] Greek MPs visit Uruguay for talks with Gov't officials

  • [11] Education minister condemns student violence

  • [12] Polytechnic to be occupied

  • [13] Civil servants strike for higher pay, better conditions

  • [14] Peponis announces reopening of Piraiki-Patraiki plant

  • [15] Farmers' group satisfied with results of meeting with premier


  • [1] Inner cabinet set to rubber stamp new budget today

    Athens, 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou yesterday gave the green light to the 1996 budget after being briefed on its final details by Finance Minister Alekos Papadopoulos.

    The budget will be discussed at today's inner cabinet meeting, to be chaired by the premier.

    Mr. Papadopoulos described the new budget as "responsible and realistic", and fully in line with the aims of the convergence programme to other European economies.

    Sources said the document setting the pace of the nation's economic life for the next year may be submitted to Parliament before the November 30 deadline.

    It is predicted that the new budget will yield additional tax revenues totaling over 800 billion drachmas.

    Increases of 6-8 per cent in the taxes on tobacco, alcohol and fuel are expected to yield 125 billion.

    Motorists and motorcycle owners will face circulation tax increases of up to 100 per cent, conferring an additional sum of about 45 billion to the state.

    Increases in 'objective' values on real estate, set by tax authorities, are reckoned to extract an extra 40 billion for the state coffers.

    A predicted growth rate of 2.7 per cent in Gross Domestic Product and extra revenue from increased wage incomes are expected to yield an additional 400 billion drachmas. Wage-earners and pensioners will feel the additional tax squeeze, as the tax scale will not be inflation-indexed.

    Self-employed professionals, traders, small scale manufacturers, and others subject to the 'objective' criteria tax system will also be called upon to fork out additional sums through increases in the floor incomes.

    On the other hand, the abolition of a host of tax exemptions is not expected to yield more than 10 billion drachmas.

    On the incomes policy side, sources said the budget envisages two 2.5 per cent wage increases for public employees, on January 1 and July 1, while low-income pensioners will receive two respective 3.5 per cent increases.

    The budget also envisages new reductions in interest rates in public funding. Severe cutbacks are set for public sector consumption spending, subsidies and grants to public utilities and organizations.

    Commenting on a proposal by Labor and Social Security Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas for a 20 per cent increase in indirect taxes that will fund increases to the lowest-paid pensioners, Mr. Papadopoulos said the subject was not related to next year's budget.

    [2] Bonn refuses to consider Greek approach on loan, reparations issue

    Bonn, 15/11/1995 (ANA - P. Stangos):

    Bonn rejected Greece's invitation to conduct talks on the issue of the repayment of a loan the Bank of Greece was forced to extend to Nazi occupation forces, as well as on claims for war reparations, in a statement released yesterday.

    Greece's Ambassador to Bonn Ioannis Bourloyiannis-Tsangaridis submitted a verbal note to State Secretary to the German Foreign Ministry Peter Hartmann concerning the repayment of the loan and war reparations, in the German capital yesterday.

    The German Foreign Ministry later issued an announcement saying that Greece was not entitled to any war reparations.

    In Athens, the foreign ministry, notified immediately of Germany's reply, issued no announcement in response.

    "Fifty years after the end of the war and after decades of peaceful, trusting and fruitful co-operation between Germany and the international community, the reparation issue has lost its validity," the German foreign ministry announcement said.

    "For this reason the Greek government can not expect the German government to enter talks on this subject," it said.

    "The German government places great value on good and close relations with European Union and NATO partner Greece. The co-operation between Germany and Greece should however focus on the future," Mr. Hartmann was quoted as saying in the statement.

    Earlier in Athens, government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris said that the note, apart from the occupation loan, also referred to the suits filed by private citizens for damages suffered during the Nazi occupation.

    "But emphasis will be given to the occupation loan," he added.

    The spokesman said that Greece was acting within the framework of international law on the issue, stressing that Germany was a friendly country and partner in the European Union.

    Mr. Hytiris said the matter required "sound and responsible handling" by the government.

    Reliable sources at the Greek foreign ministry observed that no distinction was made in the German Foreign Ministry's announcement between claims by Greek citizens and the forced loan which was an inter-state issue.

    The sources said the German ministry's argumentation was purely political, while that of the Greek ministry had a legal dimension. They added that Greece was in a position to pursue the return of the loan through the European Court as well.

    [3] Opposition responses

    Athens, 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    The position of the main opposition New Democracy party on the loan issue is positive in the sense of claiming its return through negotiations with Germany, authoritative ND sources said.

    On its part, the Coalition of the Left and Progress said in an announcement that "the German government's insistence on a negative stance is unacceptable and legally untenable. However, it is facilitated by the unprecedented and long-standing inertia of Greek governments."

    [4] Hytiris responds to Turkish foreign minister statements

    Athens, 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    Government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris yesterday reiterated that the only possible topic for discussion between Greece and Turkey concerned the delineation of the Aegean continental shelf, through jointly agreeing to refer the dispute t o the International Court at The Hague.

    "For Greece, there are no issues for an all-inclusive dialogue," he said.

    He was referring to statements by new Turkish Foreign Minister Deniz Baykal, raising the issue of a comprehensive dialogue between the two countries.

    The spokesman also commented on references to the Moslem minority in Greece by the Turkish foreign ministry, saying that the minority enjoyed full rights.

    [5] Greece welcomes WEU decision to form joint Mediterranean force

    Madrid, 15/11/1995 (ANA - D. Makri):

    A high-level Western European Union (WEU) conference ended here yesterday with an initiative calling for creation of a joint air/naval force in the Mediterranean, a formation Greece has expressed an interest in joining.

    National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis called the initiative particularly important, saying it will help upgrade stability and security in the Mediterranean.

    The Greek defense minister and Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias attended the Madrid gathering along with other foreign and defense ministers of WEU member-states and observer nations.

    After the meeting, Mr. Papoulias said "several matters will depend on the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference, namely, if a relationship between the WEU and the European Union will be independent or if the EU will absorb the WEU."

    Mr. Papoulias also mentioned that the Madrid conference reiterated a declaration made by a similar conference in Lisbon on the beginning of a political dialogue with Cyprus.

    Results of the WEU conference will be included in next year's Intergovernmental Conference.

    Mr. Arsenis also held discussions on the sidelines of the conference on development of the EUROFORCE joint army corps and the EUROMARFORCE joint naval corps.

    In another matter, Mr. Papoulias responded to a statement by Spanish Foreign Minister Javier Solana concerning the proposed EU-Turkey customs union.

    "I believe Mr. Solana referred to certain things that are his own assessments. The Europarliament has made its decisions, I am talking about the Europarliament's socialist group, and no interference on the conscience of the Europarliament's deputies is possible," he said, replying to an ANA question.

    Mr. Solana said Turkey retains a significant position in Europe and the world's future outlook, adding that Ankara has made all the necessary efforts in order to normalize its economy and should be rewarded.

    Other topics of interest coming out of the conference concerned the creation of a WEU satellite station in Torrejon, Spain and financial issues.

    [6] Arsenis interview

    Athens, 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    National Defense Minister Gerassimos Arsenis told Spanish newspaper El Pais yesterday that Europe was threatened with the rise of fundamentalism in northern Africa and the Near East, a threat which needs to be countered by economic development and collective security in the Mediterranean.

    According to the newspaper, Mr. Arsenis said the greatest threat for Europe today emanated from the inability of European governments to deal with the conditions of the free market, demand and competition, demographic explosion in the countries of northern Africa and the Near East and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

    "The combination of these factors creates an explosive situation which needs to be dealt with immediately," he was quoted as saying.

    Commenting on Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Arsenis reiterated the government's position that "after a solution is found to the Cyprus problem, efforts should follow for the improvement of the already tense relations with Turkey."

    "Greece has proceeded with a grand gesture towards Ankara by lifting its veto on EU-Turkey customs union negotiations," Mr. Arsenis was quoted as saying.

    "Turkey must now prove that it adopts measures regarding respect for human rights and consolidation of democratic institutions," he said.

    He added that he was more optimistic about a settlement of the Cyprus issue after the European Union proclaimed its decision to commence negotiations for a Cyprus EU accession.

    On Bosnia, Mr. Arsenis was quoted as saying that "a peace agreement will soon be signed," adding that in such a case, "the United Nations will seek that NATO organizes a peace operation which will be opened to participation from other countries, such as Russia."

    "Peace in the Balkans is feasible," the newspaper quoted Mr. Arsenis as saying. "We should start considering the Balkans as an economic development region".

    Asked to comment on NATO's course, Mr. Arsenis said the alliance was on "a new course of evolution," adding that "it should play an important role to Europe's defense and peace operations."

    The WEU, in this framework, could have a special role in the field of defense," he added.

    [7] Lianis says Greece will await word on honorary Olympics request

    Athens, 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    Sports Under-secretary George Lianis said that Greece would request an honorary mandate to hold the 2008 Olympic Games before deciding whether to put forward its candidacy to hold the Olympiad in 2004 or 2008.

    Mr. Lianis said that the Greek government would support all efforts to host the games, as assured recently by Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou.

    Mr. Papandreou last week asked International Olympics Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch to back Greece's bid to host the 2008 games on an honorary basis.

    [8] Evert confident of ND's rise to power in next elections

    Athens, 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Miltiades Evert expressed his conviction yesterday that ND will again govern Greece with a majority government after the next elections.

    The ND leader made the statement during the opening of a party meeting entitled "Quality of life - New Democracy's interventions for Attica."

    Mr. Evert said that "while other parties concern themselves with secondary, unessential and unimportant matters, we concern ourselves with the great problems of the Greek people and the essential great choices, which our party must follow as soon as it comes to power."

    The opposition party leader added that "when the time comes for our party to govern the entire ministers council, everyone will execute a programme for which they have been selected by the Greek people." Mr. Evert will begin a three-day tour of the northeastern Evros prefecture at the end of the month.

    [9] Expatriates donate to Vergina excavations

    Athens, 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    Members of the Greek expatriate community in South Australia will fund archaeologists' work in the important Macedonian site of Vergina with 25,000 Australian dollars.

    A check for this amount will be given to members of a Greek delegation attending the "Dimitria" events, due to start in Adelaide soon.

    The Greek delegation will leave today and will be composed of PASOK deputy Yiannis Glavinas, the President of the Enlarged Prefectural Self-Administration of Drama, Kavala and Xanthi, Pavlos Papadopoulos, and Pella Prefect George Tanos.

    Minister of Macedonia and Thrace Constantine Triarides had been invited to the events, organized by the Pan-Macedonian Union of South Australia, but will not attend due to his participation in preparations for the first assembly of the Expatriate Hellenism Council, scheduled to start in Thessaloniki at the end of November.

    [10] Greek MPs visit Uruguay for talks with Gov't officials

    Montevideo, Uruguay 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    A three-member Greek parliamentary delegation, consisting of deputies Constantinos Papanagiotou (PASOK), Ioannis Varvitsiotis (ND) and Panos Kammenos (ND), attended the unveiling ceremony of a statue of Socrates at the Montevideo National Library during their visit to Uruguay.

    The delegation also met with senior government officials in order to promote the establishment of a bilateral interparliamentary committee.

    The Greek delegation visited the Tsakou Foundation for the learning of the Greek language in Uruguay's capital city and met with the governing body of Montevideo's Greek community.

    [11] Education minister condemns student violence

    Athens, 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    Education Minister George Papandreou condemned violence at a protest march by 2,500 students in downtown Athens yesterday after masked youths threw petrol bombs at a television van and a bank.

    The students are demanding higher state spending on education.

    "We thus have been unable to meet with students' representatives and discuss our proposals on higher education," Mr. Papandreou said, adding that the ministry intended to reform the education system and that it supported public against private education .

    The march caused traffic chaos, with several main central Athens streets closed off by police.

    There were minor scuffles outside the Education Ministry later as students tried to break through a police cordon at the entrance to the building. One policeman was injured by stone-throwing.

    Commenting on the incidents, main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert attributed them to "efforts to divert public opinion from the big problems."

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress criticized the police for not dealing effectively with such incidents.

    In Thessaloniki, four youths were arrested in protests in the city centre after several minor incidents.

    The anarchist groups were reportedly protesting the arrest, also yesterday, of another anarchist in Athens during rioting in the capital's centre.

    At press-time, the anarchists remained contained at the point of their gathering, without being able to complete their programmed march, while the situation was described as "tense."

    Student groups at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki held general assemblies yesterday to decide on mobilizations for the next few days.

    [12] Polytechnic to be occupied

    Athens, 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    The Athens Polytechnic was due to be occupied this morning after a decision by the Coordination Committees of four schools (Electronic Engineering, Architecture, Metallurgy and the Higher School of Fine Art) at the Law School, where they convened after the protest march yesterday.

    The Coordination Committees, whose role is recognized only by a faction and not by the National Students' Union of Greece majority, reached the decision despite the pressures of their now revolutionary wing, who wanted the occupation to begin last night.

    [13] Civil servants strike for higher pay, better conditions

    Athens, 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    Civil servants in the Attica prefecture yesterday held a three-hour work stoppage and protest rally to press demands for higher pay and institutional reform.

    The stoppage and rally was organized by the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) in support of demands for a 17 per cent salary increase in early 1996, new salary scales, an increase in family allowances, collective negotiation of labor agreements for civil servants and the immediate settlement of social security and pension issues.

    Speaking at the rally, ADEDY President Yiannis Koutsoukos dismissed the government's promises to protect workers' incomes as "empty", claiming that for some categories of workers the loss of income over the past decade was as high as 50 per cent.

    Mr. Koutsoukos said civil servants' demands were "connected with the need to back public services so that they can play their role in social development".

    He also accused the government of deceiving the trade union movement for going ahead with its economic convergence programme and incomes policy without any discussion.

    Meanwhile, General Confederation of Workers of Greece President Christos Protopappas said today he had requested a temporary "freeze" be put on a legislative amendment restricting demands for pension increases based on court rulings.

    Mr. Protopappas made the announcement after talks with Labor and Social Security Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas. He said that trade unions could never accept the amendment, adding that if the government insisted on its enactment "we will be forced into direct confrontation".

    Mr. Tzoumakas said that the trade unions had proposed that the government freeze the amendment, open dialogue for an overall settlement of social security issues and, in the meantime, call a moratorium on pension increase demands.

    He pledged to convey the proposal to the Cabinet for a final decision.

    [14] Peponis announces reopening of Piraiki-Patraiki plant

    Athens, 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    Industry Minister Anastasios Peponis said yesterday the Piraiki-Patraiki textile mills would resume operating in three months' time after a relevant law ratifying its privatization agreement was published.

    Mr. Peponis made the announcement at a meeting with representatives of agencies headquartered in the Achaia prefecture and unions of former staff employed at the complex.

    The company was bought by a group of investors, led by former owner Jason Stratos.

    The new buyers are committed to investments of six billion drachmas and 1,150 jobs. The first 300 employees will be hired four months after the company resumes operating and the next 100 in three months. Some 700 of the positions will be given to former employees.

    The mills have been sold for 6.8 billion drachmas which will be paid in installments over seven-and-a-half years. The installments will be paid at interest rates current for state treasury bills and the buyers will provide a letter of guarantee for two billion drachmas and a mortgage safeguarding claims of up to nine billion drachmas.

    Mr. Peponis said the contract was not believed to be extremely beneficial, but an agreement providing quite a few advantages for the investor and was the best that could be achieved.

    [15] Farmers' group satisfied with results of meeting with premier

    Athens, 15/11/1995 (ANA):

    Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou showed full understanding for farmers' problems at a meeting with the Panhellenic Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives' (PASEGES) presidium in the presence of Agriculture Minister Theodoros Stathis yesterday.

    The presidium, visiting the prime minister at his residence in Ekali, outlined its proposals on resolving problems.

    PASEGES stressed the need for a national agricultural policy which should be "supplementary and supportive of the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy" and which "will have the purpose of confronting the major and specific problems of Greek agriculture."

    According to an announcement by PASEGES: "The prime minister agreed with the proposal absolutely and called for an immediate start to processes for defining a national strategy for Greek agriculture."

    The announcement said the premier told the leadership of PASEGES he was at the disposal of farmers' organizations whenever his intervention was necessary for problems to be resolved.

    PASEGES' leadership delivered a list of farmers' claims to the prime minister requiring "immediate attention."

    Among others, the claims include an increase in expenditures for agriculture in the new state budget being prepared, a reallocation of Community Support Framework funds, solutions to the farmers' insurance and pension issues, measures facilitating the export of agricultural produce, measures supporting the competitiveness of Greek farm products, a settlement of debts owed by farmers and stockbreeders and the speedy implementation of the Farmers' Register.

    End of English language section.

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