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A.N.A. Bulletin, 22/11/95

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

Athens News Agency Directory

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No. 747), November 22, 1995

Greek Press & Information Office

Ottawa, Canada

E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [1] Premier's condition 'stable, clearly improving', doctors say

  • [2] Greece, Poland agree to sign peace, friendship accord

  • [3] Stephanopoulos in Sofia: Bilateral agreements close to completion

  • [4] Foreign ministers confer on road axes

  • [5] CORRECTION

  • [6] EU foreign ministers confer with Michaelides on Cyprus accession

  • [7] Carnero report on EU-Turkey customs union to be discussed today

  • [8] Greece must play regional bridging role for EU, Arsenis says

  • [9] Athens Polytechnic damages bull estimated at 40 million drachmas

  • [10] Trials

  • [11] Korydallos staff continue search for weapons

  • [12] Evert, Constantopoulos comments

  • [13] Canadian trade mission expected for talks next week

  • [14] News in Brief

  • [15] EU commissioner says more can be done for Greek unemployed

  • [16] Kinnock slams foot-dragging on Inter-European networks

  • [17] Energy networks

  • [18] Commission sees lower Greek inflation next year

  • [19] Greece to play focal role in regional business development, Papantoniou says


  • [1] Premier's condition 'stable, clearly improving', doctors say

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    A medical communique on the health of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou issued by the Onassion Cardiology Centre at 8pm yesterday described his condition as "stable".

    "Treatment is continuing, and the cardiac and renal functions present no problems," it said.

    The first medical communique of the day, issued at 1:30pm, said the premier's health was satisfactory, adding that "mechanical support" had been used early yesterday morning to improve the respiratory function "with success".

    Confounding rumors of kidney and heart complications, Onassion deputy director Grigorios Skalkeas, who read the communique, was categorical that there was "no change" in the premier's nephric and cardiac functioning.

    Asked by reporters whether the premier's health was remaining stable or improving, Mr. Skalkeas replied that it was "clearly improving".

    He did not confirm reports that special medicine had been ordered from England for the premier's supposed kidney dysfunction.

    He said only that heart surgeon Magdi Yacoub, who operated on the prime minister in 1989, had simply inquired whether Health Minister Dimitris Kremastinos, the prime minister's cardiologist and personal physician, was administering any medicine for the "preventive support" of the kidneys.

    Mr. Kremastinos and a team of cardiologists who monitored the premier's health overnight expressed "reserved optimism" after visiting him in the intensive care unit in the morning.

    Shortly after the issuing of the second communique, government spokesman Telemahos Hytiris described the premier's condition as "satisfactory", and expressed optimism.

    He reacted sharply to certain press reports, referring to "fortune-tellers who spread anxiety among the public", and appealed to reporters to exhibit the caution befitting the circumstances and restrict themselves to what the doctors said.

    Replying to questions, he said there was no problem with the patient's kidneys, and he was communicating, except for periods under sedation, in the framework of mechanical support to the respiratory function.

    Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert yesterday visited central bank governor Lucas Papademos to discuss the repercussions of the prime minister's admission to hospital on the economy and measures being taken by the Bank of Greece. Calling for calm, Mr. Evert delivered a clear warning to speculators that "hasty moves in any direction will eventually harm those who attempt to make them".

    He said that the central bank was "maintaining a level-headed stance and I believe that any problem which might arise will be overcome".

    News of Mr. Papandreou's illness caused shares on the Athens Stock Exchange to fall sharply.

    Replying to questions later, the government spokesman said there was no question of Mr. Papandreou being replaced due to his illness, clarifying that when the premier is unable to attend somewhere, his place is taken by the minister at the top of the Cabinet hierarchy.

    In this case, he added, this minister is Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

    Mr. Hytiris reiterated that the premier's health was developing satisfactorily and stressed that there was no concern over the course of the economy.

    Echoing Mr. Evert's earlier assessment, Mr. Hytiris said that "certain moves which are being made in order to exploit the premier's illness will fail".

    Mr. Evert later visited the Onassion Centre and was briefed on the premier's health by Mr. Kremastinos.

    On leaving, he told reporters that "doctors, not politicians, make statements at the hospital".

    Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos also visited the hospital and declined to make statements after being briefed by Mr. Kremastinos.

    Both party leaders visited the intensive care unit on the first floor of the hospital and expressed their best wishes for the premier's speedy recovery to the prime minister's wife, Dimitra-Liani Papandreou.

    It later appeared there had been no escalation of the reaction to Mr. Papandreou's hospitalization on the money market, as the Bank of Greece succeeded in staving off pressure on the drachma by spending just 100 million DM to support the national currency.

    Money market lending rates for the drachma settled at 16.5 per cent, down from 22 per cent early yesterday, and just two percentage points higher than the level before the premier was taken ill.

    Speaking to reporters, the premier's economic adviser Tassos Yiannitsis said there was no cause for concern.

    Ionian Bank Governor Panagiotis Korliras said the market was "jittery" but added that this was unjustified because "nothing has changed in the government's economic policy".

    The governor of the National Mortgage Bank, Tassos Tzavellas, said that there was some "nervousness" in the market, stressing however that reactions had been "exaggerated" and would soon subside.

    Athens Stock Exchange President Manolis Xanthakis said that "no matter how justified the concern is of stock exchange investors, there is no justification for any kind of panic".

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos and Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias are expected to visit the Onassion after their return from Bulgaria this afternoon, to be briefed on the prime minister's condition.

    [2] Greece, Poland agree to sign peace, friendship accord

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Stefan Meller left Athens for Warsaw yesterday with a pledge that Greece would sign a peace and friendship accord with Greece when the Polish foreign minister visits Greece.

    Mr. Meller held talks yesterday, the last day of his two-day working visit to Athens, with Foreign Ministry General Secretary Ambassador Constantine Georgiou, during which both sides ascertained the very good climate in relations between the two countries and agreed to further develop co-operation particularly in the cultural sector.

    During the talks, the two sides discussed bilateral relations in general and agreed on the signing of a peace and friendship accord during the Polish foreign minister's visit to Greece. A date has not yet been set for the visit.

    According to diplomatic sources, the two men also discussed the possibility of concluding a co-operation protocol between the foreign ministries of the two countries which would provide for regular contacts, as well as the issue of Poland's accession to the European Union which Greece has pledged to support.

    Commenting yesterday on the victory of ex-Communist Aleksander Kwasniewski in presidential elections in Poland, Mr. Meller said that the result would in no way affect his country's foreign policy "the main axes of which were formulated six years ago an d remain firm".

    Snowfall and low temperatures have been recorded across the country, while snow also fell on Mount Parnis and in the northern suburbs of Athens yesterday.

    Vehicles must use chains in the regions of Mbralos and Domokos in the Fthiotida prefecture, Raches Tymfristou in Karpenisi and in Kalavryta, Malakasa and Agios Mercourios.

    Sailings were also banned from the ports of Piraeus and Rafina for the Aegean islands, Crete and the Dodecannese due to bad weather.

    [3] Stephanopoulos in Sofia: Bilateral agreements close to completion

    Sofia, 22/11/1995 (ANA/N. Megadoukas/N. Hios):

    The visit of President Kostis Stephanopoulos to Sofia appears to have further cemented Greek-Bulgarian relations and all indications are that five bilateral agreements will be ready to be signed by the end of the year.

    The agreements concern the management of the waters of the River Nestos, the establishment of three new border crossings, the employment of Bulgarian workers in Greece on a seasonal basis, equal opportunities for the development of business activity and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos, who began his three-day state visit Monday, had talks yesterday with Prime Minister Jean Videnov, who described the visit as a "milestone in the development of bilateral relations", noting that relations between the two Balkan neighbors had "weathered many storms".

    The Greek president said his visit was confirmation "precisely of this dynamism in relations between Athens and Sofia, relations which are based on common interests which unite the two countries, as well as on their common European orientation".

    The two men agreed on the need for the integration of the European Union in the region of the Balkans.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos noted that the bilateral Greek-Bulgarian agreements were nearly ready for signing and that new sectors should now be sought for the further development of co-operation between the two countries. Mr. Videnov stressed that Athens and Sofia should be at the forefront of moves for European integration, adding that President Stephanopoulos' visit had contributed considerably to the settlement of "all issues of concern to the two countries".

    "With the signing of the Greek-Bulgarian agreements we shall be able to give specific expression to the considerable work which we have accomplished," he said.

    Mr. Videnov expressed the hope that his Greek counterpart, Andreas Papandreou, who was hospitalized in Athens on Monday, would soon leave hospital and be able to visit Sofia before the end of the year, as agreed, in order to sign the Greek-Bulgarian accords.

    [4] Foreign ministers confer on road axes

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    Earlier, on Monday night, the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Georgi Pirinski, and Greece, Karolos Papoulias President Stephanopoulos and Ukraine Foreign Minister Gennady Undovenko, who also happened to be in the Bulgarian capital, held a meeting centering on the plans for construction of road axes in the Balkans and the Black Sea region, and the promotion of joint action in this sector.

    Earlier, Mr. Pirinski and Mr. Udovenko signed a joint protocol, proposing a meeting between representatives of the Central European Initiative and the Black Sea Economic Co-operation Council on the subject of road axes in the broader region.

    "Greece is the first member-state of the European Union to be briefed on the Bulgarian-Ukrainian initiative, through its foreign minister Karolos Papoulias," said Mr. Pirinski.

    [5] CORRECTION

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    The new Australian ambassador to Athens is Dr. R.S. Merrillees, not Merrills, as reported in the November 20 edition of The Bulletin.

    [6] EU foreign ministers confer with Michaelides on Cyprus accession

    Brussels, 22/11/1995 (ANA/P. Pantelis) :

    The structured dialogue between Cyprus and the European Union is an achievement emanating from the close co-operation between Greece and Cyprus and is the best development since Turkey occupied Cyprus' northern third 21 years ago, Cyprus Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides said yesterday.

    Mr. Michaelides was speaking at a joint press conference with Greece's Alternate Foreign Minister George Romeos, following a Council of Foreign Ministers meeting as part of the Cyprus structured dialogue, the first taking place at foreign ministers' le vel.

    Mr. Romeos said the completion of Cyprus' course to accession in time limits to be set by the intergovernmental conference was considered certain through co-operation between the two governments and support by the other member-states.

    Mr. Michaelides said the Council's Spanish President Javier Solana officially confirmed that Cyprus and Malta had been invited to the European Council in Madrid.

    [7] Carnero report on EU-Turkey customs union to be discussed today

    Brussels, 22/11/1995 (ANA/M. Savva) :

    A report by Spanish leftist Eurodeputy Carlo Gonzalez Carnero on the customs union between Turkey and the European Union will be discussed this morning by the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee.

    In his report, the Spanish Eurodeputy considers Turkey's progress on democratization issues inadequate.

    The meeting will continue today and customs union will be the first issue to be discussed.

    Foreign affairs committee chairman Abel Matutes (European People's Party) proposed a postponement of the debate for a later date but many Eurodeputies claimed that the agenda which set out that the issue of customs union should be discussed either yesterday or today should be observed.

    The European Parliament's political freedoms committee proposed a postponement of the debate earlier this week, due to upcoming elections in Turkey.

    [8] Greece must play regional bridging role for EU, Arsenis says

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    Greece can and must immediately attempt to become a bridge between the European Union, the Balkans, Black Sea nations and the eastern Mediterranean, according to National Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis, who spoke yesterday at a Panhellenic Federation of Exporters (PSE) luncheon.

    Mr. Arsenis said such an initiative would lessen the distance between the EU and other European countries and even lead to the inclusion of some of those nations in the now 15-member union.

    The Greek defense minister was speaking during the second day of an international conference entitled "Black Sea-Eastern Mediterranean: New business opportunities." Mr. Arsenis said a perception in the EU that relegates the Balkans into a peripheral European region is a "basic and strategic mistake," adding that Europe will be unable to rid itself of instability and uncertainty as long as it is unable to develop a collective security system that includes the Balkans.

    [9] Athens Polytechnic damages bull estimated at 40 million drachmas

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    The bill for last week's occupation o f the Athens Polytechnic is estimated to go over the 40 million drachma mark, university officials said yesterday.

    The officials said that, while valuable paintings housed at the university's Fine Arts School had been spared by being moved beforehand to other locations, huge damage had been caused to furniture, libraries, students' work and photo-graphic equipment.

    Polytechnic Rector Nikos Markatos said he would instruct the institution's legal advisers to demand one million drachmas to be paid towards the damages by each youth found guilty of vandalism.

    Meanwhile, Supreme Court Prosecutor Athanasios Sioulas ordered appellate deputy prosecutor George Sanidas to begin an emergency preliminary study "in order to ascertain if there was any criminal responsibility on behalf of the university authorities and members of the Athens Polytechnic Senate or others, regarding criminal actions being carried out throughout the night of November 17-18 within the Polytechnic."

    Officers of the Greek Police (ELAS) are continuing investigations into which officers were guilty of brutality during the Polytechnic riots. On the orders of Chief of Police Manolis Hourdakis, riot police (MAT) lieutenant Ioannis Kopas has been suspended from duty for beating a minor near the Polytechnic gates.

    [10] Trials

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    Lawyers representing the 25 youths who were arrested last Friday night during clashes with police outside the Polytechnic have received time to study their clients' briefs.

    The 25 will be tried next Friday, while the cases of the 137 youths arrested last Saturday morning we-re due to be tried today.

    Secretary of PASOK Youth Dionysis Kalogeropoulos said yesterday that "there is no excuse for the use of the academic asylum as a place for actions of wanton violence and destruction."

    [11] Korydallos staff continue search for weapons

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    Groups of correctional officers at the top security Korydallos Prison continued a thorough search yesterday of all the facility's communal areas for homemade weapons in the aftermath of a violent inmate uprising last week.

    Prisoners reportedly manufactured hundreds of homemade weapons during the six-day standoff before finally returning to their cells Sunday.

    Jailers, assisted by inmate volunteers, are using a special device in search efforts that can supposedly detect even the smallest metal file. According to reports, some prisoners in the third cell block have refused to co-operate with authorities in sur rendering weapons.

    The danger posed by such objects again became apparent when a 23-year-old inmate was seriously injured in the leg Monday afternoon with a homemade knife. He was subsequently transferred to a local hospital.

    Meanwhile, hundreds of Korydallos residents protested Monday evening the existence of the prison complex in their working-class west Athens district.

    [12] Evert, Constantopoulos comments

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert declared yesterday his support for the immediate transfer of Korydallos Prison to Avlona, north of Athens, during his meeting with local government authorities.

    The ND president also voiced support for transfer of drug addicts presently held in Korydallos to hospitals for therapy.

    In addition, Coalition of the Left and Progress President Nikos Constantopoulos said his party also favored a relocation of prison facilities.

    Mr. Constantopoulos met yesterday with the mayor of Korydallos and criticized what he said was a non-existent correctional policy and a victory of various prison cliques during last week's uprising.

    [13] Canadian trade mission expected for talks next week

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    A trade mission from the province of Quebec will visit Greece November 27-December 1 for talks with government officials, trade and industry associations and private business firms, a Canadian Embassy press release said yesterday.

    The purpose of the mission is to strengthen investment and commercial ties between the two countries. Participating in the mission will be senior executives of Canadian companies specializing in the sectors of urban transport, telecommunications, environment, civil aviation, urban cleaning, engineering, energy, television broadcasting and multimedia communications.

    Mission members will discuss possibilities for high technology transfers, joint ventures and sales of their products and services with senior members of the Greek government and private sector representatives in Athens and Thessaloniki.

    "While two-way trade between our two countries is modest," the embassy press release said, "there is much scope for growth. Existing and committed Canadian investments in Greece, on the other hand, amount to at least US $925 million".

    [14] News in Brief

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    Teachers of secondary schools gathered outside the education ministry in downtown Athens yesterday morning, demanding increases in spending on education and a doubling of their monthly pay. Teachers in the Attica basin staged a 48-hour strike on Monday while another has been scheduled for December 11 and 12. The teachers said that if their demands are not met by the end of December, they will hold general meetings in order to organize further mobilizations as of January. President of Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council George Koutsoukos attended the gathering and praised the teachers' struggle for the improvement of education.

    [15] EU commissioner says more can be done for Greek unemployed

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    EU Social Affairs Commissioner Padraig Flynn said yesterday that Community funds presently contained appropriations already approved to help the unemployed in Greece which Athens had not yet managed to absorb.

    Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Flynn said he was not pleased with the level of absorption achieved to date by the labor ministry. He said, however, that the funds had not yet been lost and promised all necessary technical assistance to reverse the situation. Also present at the press conference were Labor and Social Security Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas, Health Under-secretary Manolis Skoulakis and Labor Under-secretary George Adamopoulos. Commenting on his talks with Mr. Tzoumakas, Mr. Flynn said that h e had found "a fresh mind" which gave rise for optimism.

    By the end of the century, he added, the Community will have allocated a total of 13.9 billion ECU to Greece, the most important appropriation being for the training and education of the labor force.

    He called for greater access for young people and the long-term unemployed to the various programmes and improvements in monitoring mechanisms and system control. He said that the Community's target was to bring unemployment in Europe down to 5 per cent by the year 2000, adding that Greece's unemployment figure of 10 per cent was too high.

    Mr. Flynn also expressed concern at the fact that 52 per cent of the unemployed in Greece have been out of work for over 12 months and 35 per cent of the unemployed are young persons.

    He said these figures showed that while the economic policy followed by Greek governments was correct, it should be combined with structural intervention in the labor market in order to reduce unemployment.

    Mr. Tzoumakas said that the labor and agriculture ministries had the highest level of fund absorption with 30 per cent. Despite this, he continued, "we are not happy and our efforts must be intensified". "We share Mr. Flynn's views concerning the nee d to balance economic and social policy," he added.

    After meeting Interior Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos at noon, Mr. Flynn said he was happy with the rate of absorption of EU funds involved in the Greek government's effort to reform public administration, adding that the Commission intended to provide technical support.

    [16] Kinnock slams foot-dragging on Inter-European networks

    Brussels, 22/11/1995 (ANA/F. Stangos):

    European Commissioner for Transports Neil Kinnock harshly criticized European Union member-states yesterday for delays in construction of planned inter-European highway networks.

    Mr. Kinnock was speaking during a presentation of a Commission pro-gress report that will be submitted to the Madrid summit next month.

    The British commissioner and one-time Labor Party leader said that "despite their good intentions, national governments have not accompanied these declarations with necessary action."

    He emphasized that EU members must follow through on commitments in order to transform the current patchwork of European highway systems into a truly trans-European network.

    In addition, Mr. Kinnock declared that he had not discerned a willingness on the part of member-states to work toward such a goal, warning "if new formulas of additional financing are not found, inter-European networks in transportation, energy and telecommuni-cations will not be developed."

    Mr. Kinnock called for member-states to better finance projects by forming joint ventures with the private sector, rational competition and tendering procedures as well as public sector participation in projects' investment through the European Investment Bank (EIU).

    Greek projects Among high priority inter-European networks projects is the Rion-Patras- Athens-Thessaloniki-Bulgarian border roadway, and the ambitious west to east Egnatia Highway connecting Igoumenitsa on Greece's Ionian coast to Alexandroupolis in Thrace.

    Costs for the Egnatia project are expected to reach 6.36 billion ECU, with slightly more than 5 billion ECU scheduled to be allocated between 1995-1999.

    The Commission's progress report states that according to Greek officials, 290 million ECU was spent in 1995 and that the Egnatia project "is proceeding according to plan."

    Furthermore, 40 per cent of tendering and project manager procedures have been completed for the Rion-Bulgarian border road axis, with 25 per cent, respectively, for the Egnatia, the Commission states.

    Officials in the Commission's seventh general directorate (responsible for transportation issues) told ANA that "the two Greek projects have not shown serious problems in attracting private investors, as long as the Greek government has the will to face the political cost of toll increases."

    Commission officials said doubling (from roughly three drachmas to six drachmas per kilometer) should solve private investors' concerns.

    Otherwise, the same sources state, EU and government funding will probably suffice for the two projects, but at the expense of other projects.

    [17] Energy networks

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    In terms of inter-European energy networks, priority was assigned to the Greece-Italy underwater electrical connection and the much-touted north-south natural gas pipeline along with the liquefied natural gas facility on Revythousa isle. The Commission's report said funding for the two projects has not been finalized.

    [18] Commission sees lower Greek inflation next year

    Brussels, 22/11/1995 (ANA/D. Stamboglis):

    The European Commission projects a further drop in Greece's inflation rate as well as decreases in the public debt and budget deficit next year.

    The Commission will release its report on the Greek economy and its prospects today, along with reports on other member-states' economies.

    According to sources, the Commission's report emphasizes that Greece is fulfilling its Convergence Programme obligations. The report also projects a further improvement in economic indicators as well as success in terms of inflation rate, public debt an d budget deficit targets.

    [19] Greece to play focal role in regional business development, Papantoniou says

    Athens, 22/11/1995 (ANA):

    National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said last night that Greece was determined to play a focal role, utilizing the comparative advantages it possessed in the development of the wider Black Sea and Middle East region.

    Mr. Papantoniou was speaking at a dinner held in his honor by the Panhellenic Federation of Exporters at the end of an international conference on prospects for business co-operation in the region.

    He said Greece would contribute substantively to setting out an integrated policy in the region.

    Mr. Papantoniou said the government intended to create an integrated Central Informatics System for the business world aimed at supporting its investment initiatives.

    He called on Greek businessmen to take advantage of the specific moment "since big western enterprises hesitate to enter the specific markets due to existing liquidity."

    Mr. Papantoniou further said businessmen should create coordinating bodies in the Black Sea and Middle East in line with the existing Inter-Balkan Business Council.

    He said that in order to achieve its wider pursuits in the region, Greece should modernize its economy, reiterating his conviction that the country "is at the start to a new cycle of growth."

    End of English language section.

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