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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 96-12-02

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

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

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1055), December 2, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address: grnewsca@sympatico.ca


CONTENTS

  • [01] Widespread flooding hits eastern Macedonia, Thrace
  • [02] Farmers' mobilizations intensify throughout country
  • [03] Evert's comments
  • [04] Statesman George Papandreou remembered at Patras University event
  • [05] Simitis to address OSCE summit today
  • [06] G. Papandreou raises issue of alleged torching of Greek forests by Turkish agents
  • [07] ND calls for more measures to deal with AIDS epidemic
  • [08] Stephanopoulos cites lack of Gov't information concerning EU convergence, Maastricht
  • [09] Gerry Adams says Sinn Fein's primary objective today is a negotiated peace settlement
  • [10] Adams on Irish unity
  • [11] Adams on the Cyprus problem
  • [12] Constantopoulos outlines Synaspismos' strategy at party conference
  • [13] Varvitsiotis offers resignation of both Evert, Mitsotakis as solution to ND crisis
  • [14] 3 suspects arrested on drug charges
  • [15] Farmer sets himself on fire

  • [01] Widespread flooding hits eastern Macedonia, Thrace

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    Heavy flooding in the northeastern prefectures of Xanthi and Kavala over the weekend left three people dead, many injured and has caused widespread damage.

    The province of Xanthi was declared in a state of emergency yesterday, with the government's "Xenocrates" contingency plan applied in stricken areas, while authorities said fire brigades in the regions received hundreds of calls from people trapped in flooded homes and shops.

    In addition, large parts of the island of Thassos remained without electricity for most of Saturday morning, while numerous trees were uprooted by strong winds in the center of the city of Kavala.

    Gale force winds in the northwest Aegean resulted in an interruption of ferry services from Kavala to Thassos and other islands in the northwest of the country.

    The Vistonida lake, as well as several rivers and canals in eastern Macedonia and Thrace overflowed, causing damage to wheat and cotton crops. Road connections between Xanthi and Rodopi prefectures were cut off on Saturday night after a new bridge at Iasmos, Komotini, subsided.

    According to reports, 30-year-old farmer Kiosse Nezit, Aristides Barbathanasis, 38, and his 14-year-old daughter were killed in accidents during the flooding.

    Meanwhile, heavy flooding was also reported in Patra's streets late on Saturday.

    Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos is in Xanthi to coordinate efforts to deal with the flooding, believed to be the worst in the last 50 years.

    On his part, Eastern Macedonia-Thrace secretary general Athanasios Lagos, who also chaired a meeting in Xanthi yesterday, announced government measures for the support of flood-stricken victims.

    Under the measures, all affected residents in the devastated areas will be transported to hotels if they so wish and will be supplied with foodstuffs, while an emergency stipend of 200,000 drachmas per family will be made available in order to cover basic necessities.

    "We apologize to the families of the three victims," Mr. Lagos said. "The government, through my presence, shows its great interest in your region, which has been hit by this disaster. It was unexpected for all..."

    Mr. Lagos has asked for the prefectural, municipal and utility services to submit a detailed report today on damages caused throughout the prefecture, in order for relevant ministries to be able to order repair works.

    Gale force winds have been predicted to continue around the country today.

    [02] Farmers' mobilizations intensify throughout country

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    Farmers in the northern prefectures of Thessaloniki, Imathia, Pella and Pieria cut off western Macedonia from the city of Thessaloniki yesterday, the third successive day of their mobilizations, as farmers' groups intensified protest demands for cheaper fuel for agricultural use and increased subsidies for cultivated land.

    According to reports, a road block of about 50 tractors was set up on the Thessaloniki-Veria road, while another 40 tractors were parked across the old national road from Thessaloniki to Katerini, near the village of Kypseli.

    All road communications were cut off at various points on the road from Lamia to Trikala, Karditsa and Larisa by farmers from the Domokos region, reports stated.

    Earlier yesterday afternoon, farmers with about 100 tractors gathered at the Malagra bridge in the prefecture of Thessaloniki and blocked the Thessaloniki-Athens national highway. Traffic was being diverted to the old national road, although it was reported that farmers would block that highway as well later.

    Stockbreeders from Larissa joined the protests, while Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas called a meeting with the "PanThessaly Struggle Committee" for this afternoon in an effort to end the mobilizations.

    However, the committee did not appear flexible during its contacts with a government delegation which traveled to Larissa.

    Their demands included additional benefits, to the tune of 90,000 drachmas per stremma, to be awarded from the budget to cotton producers, as well as untaxed fuel and a 50 per cent reduction in electricity bills for agricultural use.

    It is estimated that if all demands are met, the budget would be burdened by another 300-400 billion drachmas.

    [03] Evert's comments

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    On his part, Main opposition New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert called on Prime Minister Costas Simitis to meet with farmers' representatives as soon as possible, saying he feared the current situation could only get worse.

    However, according to information, the government is examining the possibility of providing an emergency financial bonus to farmers whose crops were damaged by adverse weather conditions.

    Meanwhile, road blocks set up by farmers in Thessaly are reportedly being reinforced, while farmers' unions around the country are due to convene today in order to discuss whether they will join the mobilizations.

    [04] Statesman George Papandreou remembered at Patras University event

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    Patras University celebrated the 30-year anniversary of its founding over the weekend with an event honoring former prime minister and statesman George Papandreou.

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos as well as university officials spoke at the event, as did George Papandreou's granddaughter and Andreas Papandreou's daughter, Sofia Katsaneva, who is also the president of the George Papandreou Foundation.

    "George Papandreou had a singular, sparkling eloquence, who impressed the people with his genuine patriotic and social ideas. He was unswerving in his democratic ideals until his death..." Mr. Stephanopoulos, who was in Patra to attend events honoring the city's patron saint, Agios Andreas, said.

    Papandreou was born in 1888 in Achaia prefecture and died in 1968.

    [05] Simitis to address OSCE summit today

    Lisbon, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    A Greek delegation headed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis arrived in the Portuguese capital yesterday evening to attend a summit conference of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which opens in Lisbon today.

    The summit's agenda will concentrate on European security issues, as well as the OSCE's relations with Russia.

    Diplomatic sources said the Greek premier, who is due to address the summit today, is not expected to hold meetings with either Turkish President Suleyman Demirel or the president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Kiro Gligorov, although informal social meetings have not been ruled out.

    Greek-Turkish relations are not on the summit agenda, although Mr. Simitis may brief his counterparts during scheduled bilateral meetings.

    Meanwhile, it was reported that the prime minister may have a short meeting with US Vice-President Al Gore on the sidelines of the conference.

    Mr. Simitis is accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas.

    [06] G. Papandreou raises issue of alleged torching of Greek forests by Turkish agents

    Istanbul, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, in a meeting here on Saturday with Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Onur Oymen, raised the issue of reports that the Turkish ultra-nationalist group "grey wolves" has been involved in the setting of forest fires on Greek islands.

    According to diplomatic sources, Mr. Oymen denied any involvement in the matter on the part of the Turkish state, and said he would soon make an announcement on the controversial issue.

    According to the same sources, Mr. Papandreou stressed that a simple statement would not be suffice, and requested from the Turkish official an in-depth investigation into the charges.

    The alternate foreign minister represented Athens at the Ecumenical Patriarchate's celebrations of the feast day of Agios Andreas on Saturday, where he met with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

    [07] ND calls for more measures to deal with AIDS epidemic

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    The main opposition New Democracy party yesterday marked World AIDS Day by issuing a statement calling for the full development of a Center for Control of Special Infections, with necessary staffing and equipment.

    ND also suggested that an information center be established with a 24-hour telephone hotline, an increase in the number of hostels for those infected with HIV, and institution of home care for AIDS sufferers.

    Since 1984, when records began being kept on the disease, 25.5 million teenagers and adults and 2.4 million children have been infected with HIV throughout the world.

    In Greece, 1,421 cases of AIDS have been reported, while 726 people have died of the disease.

    [08] Stephanopoulos cites lack of Gov't information concerning EU convergence, Maastricht

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Saturday said there had been a lack of information on the part of the government regarding the consequences of economic convergence with the European Union and the results of Greece's efforts to meet Maastricht Treaty criteria.

    Speaking at events in Patra to celebrate the city's patron saint, Agios Andreas, the president spoke of the dilemma facing the Greek people, as well as the other Europeans.

    "We are told by the powerful of Europe... that we must fulfill the conditions, the so-called criteria of convergence..." the president said, noting that not enough information has been given on what sacrifices must be made, and for how long the nation must work toward these goals.

    He stressed that in order for the Greek people to become involved in the government's objectives, it was up to the government to provide more information than it had already. If it was able to convince the Greek people of the need for this effort, then they would be more willing to make the necessary sacrifices, he added.

    "Once again, I am not talking about the measures that need to be taken to achieve the goal, but whether or not that goal is acceptable."

    Mr. Stephanopoulos was speaking at an official dinner, where he was welcomed by Patra Mayor Andreas Karavolas.

    [09] Gerry Adams says Sinn Fein's primary objective today is a negotiated peace settlement

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams spoke to the ANA yesterday on the nature of the struggle in Northern Ireland, his expectations of a peace process and his vision of a united Ireland.

    The controversial Northern Ireland leader had arrived in Athens to promote his autobiography.

    Asked what he expected from peace negotiations, Mr. Adams emphasized the importance of "conflict resolution." He added that although Sinn Fein's ultimate goal was Irish independence and an end to British rule, its current primary and strategic objective was a negotiated peace settlement.

    The collective challenge for all those trying to build an alternative to the armed struggle was to persuade the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that there was an alternative means to pursue its objectives, he added, stressing the need to tackle the cause of the conflict, which cited as "injustice".

    "My aim and Sinn Fein's aim would be to see an end to all the armed groups... to achieve a situation where there is no need for the IRA," he said.

    Mr. Adams' view concerning both Catholic and Protestant armed groups in Northern Ireland is that long-term cycle of violence exists in the territory that must be broken.

    He also said he believed that citizens don't resort to armed action easily, and that the desire of most people is to seek peace.

    Mr. Adams expressed disappointment with British Prime Minister John Major's stewardship of the peace process in Northern Ireland, but feels he still has a chance to help bring about peace.

    Turning to Sinn Fein's relations with the Republic of Ireland, Mr. Adams said:

    "There have been certain tensions but these are almost natural and understandable. The Irish government at this time is focused and has made it quite clear this week that it doesn't accept the British position," he said.

    Mr. Adams stressed the importance of the new initiative he has assumed in co-operation with Social Democratic Labor Party leader John Hume, with the support of the Irish government.

    [10] Adams on Irish unity

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    Regarding his vision of a united Ireland, Mr. Adams stated that Ireland should be secular, pluralist and reflect the diversity of its people.

    "I certainly, and most Republicans have no interest in a (united) Ireland unless it embraces, it has a capacity to include, all sections of our people. It doesn't matter to me whether a person is a Catholic, a Protestant, or an agnostic or a Jew religion should be a matter of personal conscience," he said, adding the belief that church and state should be separate.

    [11] Adams on the Cyprus problem

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    Asked to comment on the Cyprus issue, Mr. Adams said:

    "Sinn Fein's policy supports the right of people to self-determination and it believes that problems are to be resolved through negotiations involving all the peoples of the island and the leadership."

    [12] Constantopoulos outlines Synaspismos' strategy at party conference

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress' (Synaspismos) central committee ended a two-day conference yesterday with party leader Nikos Constantopoulos outlining his party's opposition strategy.

    Mr. Constantopoulos said the Synaspismos' main activities will center in Parliament and trade unions, with attention being paid to economic policy issues, the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) and foreign policy.

    The Synaspismos leader also accused the PASOK government of proceeding without a plan, while claiming that problems are now taking on explosive proportions.

    Speaking on foreign policy, he said the time is now ripe for the issues of Imia and the Aegean continental shelf to be taken to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, stressing that particular care is needed in procedures to be followed.

    The party's position is for a different foreign policy to be applied, aimed to reduce tension in the region and reinforcing Greece's role in the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean.

    As regards the issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), he said a Greek initiative must be taken regarding a composite name, and described the possibility of a triple name as being "chaotic".

    Mr. Constantopoulos said his party advocates a different economic policy that would concentrate on development of the economy and on creation of a strong productive base, using the country's human resources.

    [13] Varvitsiotis offers resignation of both Evert, Mitsotakis as solution to ND crisis

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party Vice-President Ioannis Varvitsiotis said in an interview with the "Vima" newspaper on Sunday that one solution to the party's problems would be for both ND leader Miltiades Evert and its honorary president, Constantine Mitsotakis, to withdraw.

    "It is a solution for both Evert and Mitsotakis to leave. Besides, the experiment with younger (leaders) has been tried elsewhere and has succeeded," Mr. Varvitsiotis said.

    The ND Vice-President appeared pessimistic about a solution to the party's problems being found during a forthcoming party congress, and said he believes Mr. Mitsotakis is being affected by ND deputy Dora Bakoyianni, who is also his daughter, due to her intention to contend the party's leadership.

    He also expressed his belief that Mr. Evert and Mr. Mitsotakis are currently in a gridlock, saying "they can find nothing to interest them and give them another solution, they are embracing the seat of power and they can no longer see clearly..."

    Mr. Varvitsiotis did not rule out the possibility of other congress participants being elected to the party leadership, as has been proposed by George Souflias, so long as there is an agreement "so that the congress does not begin its sessions in doubt. "

    The ND vice president also commented on Mr. Mitsotakis' criticism of party founder Constantine Karamanlis last week, saying Mr. Mitsotakis "attempted to involve him (Karamanlis) in ND's internal problems. It is not the first time the behavior of the honorary president is inexplicable."

    Speaking in another interview with the Sunday "Eleftheros Typos" newspaper, Mr. Varvitsiotis also reacted on Mr. Mitsotakis' statement that his (Mitsotakis) exclusion from the political council by Mr. Evert was an attempt by the latter to exploit the party split, saying "a party like ND is not in danger of a break-up by the fact in itself of (Mitsotakis') non-participation in the political council. "The danger of a break-up is derived from the behavior of rival sides, because some have not realized that vendettas... are not allowed these days," he added.

    He also said a rapprochement between Mr. Evert and Mr. Mitsotakis was now "difficult", and said the call for union by party members recently "sounds as the word 'democracy' sounded on the lips of leading members of communist regimes."

    Mr. Varvitsiotis, who is apparently taking no sides in the dispute, has not ruled out the possibility of running for the party's leadership at the congress, stressing that he wishes to solve ND's problems.

    In an interview in the Sunday "Ethnos", former ND finance minister Stephanos Manos described the election of congress delegates as being "honest, clean and democratic", and stressed that "the decision of such a congress will be respected by all. In any other case, we would have the same thing from the very next day: personal rivalries, doubts and undermining."

    "ND must realize that it has to chose between the third and unifying solution, which is George Souflias, or the continuation of the crisis which will occur if the mechanisms of the rival sides prevail," he said.

    Although Mr. Manos said he would like to be party leader, he said that the solution of Mr. Souflias' candidacy is best at present.

    Also in an interview in the Sunday "Ethnos", New Democracy Parliamentary spokesman Stavros Dimas described Mr. Mitsotakis' comments concerning Mr. Karamanlis as having been made at the wrong time.

    In addition, he implied that he disagreed with Mr. Evert's decision to exclude Mr. Mitsotakis from the political council, saying: "I would have preferred to hear opinions and views even if they were unpleasant, wrong or even malicious, and I would evaluate them accordingly."

    [14] 3 suspects arrested on drug charges

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    Serres police said they arrested three members of a Bulgaria-based international drug smuggling ring operating in Greece, Cyprus and other countries.

    Following a tip-off, police arrested 38-year-old Costas Karabatzidis on the Serres-Drama national road. A search of his vehicle revealed roughly 11 kilos of hashish, which he said was for two musicians he expected to meet on the Serres-Thessaloniki high way.

    The two alleged buyers, Mihalis Euthimiou, 31, from Athens, and 40-year-old Giorgos Tsialas from Halkidiki, were arrested on the roadway.

    The two suspects said they were to transport the hashish to Athens and deliver it to an unnamed individual in a hotel. No further details were available.

    Police investigations are continuing in Athens, Thessaloniki and European capitals for the arrests of other suspects.

    [15] Farmer sets himself on fire

    Athens, 02/12/1996 (ANA)

    A 57-year-old farmer doused himself with petrol and set himself on fire Saturday after being prevented from selling his fruit and vegetables at a street market in Ierapetra, Crete.

    Pavlos Grigoriou was prevented from selling his produce by other vendors, who said he did not have the necessary license.

    The man, originally from Trikala, has lived in Ierapetra for the past 13 years. According to reports, he went to a nearby playground to burn himself.

    He is in a critical condition in Irakleion University Hospital with first and second degree burns. An investigation is pending.

    End of English language section.


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