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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 96-12-07

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

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <>

ATHENS NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN (No 1060), December 7, 1996

Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
E-Mail Address:


  • [01] Gov't refuses to 'sacrifice nation's efforts' to farmers' demands
  • [02] Opposition
  • [03] Blockades
  • [04] November inflation crashes 8 per cent barrier, falls to 7.7 per cent
  • [05] Public utilities given ability to sign programmatic agreements
  • [06] Greece responds favorably to Irish IGC draft proposals
  • [07] Strike by foreign ministry employees
  • [08] Premier chairs meeting focusing on IGC
  • [09] G. Papandreou comments on Athens' efforts for peace in region
  • [10] Navy honors its patron saint
  • [11] Apostolakis notes importance of Balkan co-operation in defense sector
  • [12] Rozakis says latest Turkish policy forwarding 'territorial claims"
  • [13] Simitis to officially visit The Hague this month
  • [14] More Turkish violations of Greek airspace reported
  • [15] Stephanopoulos to tour flood-stricken regions
  • [16] Evert to meet with ND cadres in Achaia
  • [17] No decision taken on Cyprus flyover moratorium, Reppas says
  • [18] Athens rejects charges of mistreatment of immigrants
  • [19] US displeased over convicted terrorists' early release
  • [20] Relief aid funneled to Thrace
  • [21] ITO Conference

  • [01] Gov't refuses to 'sacrifice nation's efforts' to farmers' demands

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    While no compromise solutions appeared forthcoming yesterday to end week-long farmers' blockades of national roadways, the government reiterated that it "cannot take measures that will be a burden on the budget."

    In referring to protesting farmers' demands, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said "If we accept farmers' demands we have sacrificed the efforts of the Greek people for this year."

    The blocking of national roads is blackmail and no government can succumb to blackmail, he added in Parliament.

    "We must all understand that the blocking of national roads is a form of blackmail which is being perpetrated against the Greek people. It endangers the employment and income of other workers and if it continues it will cause a chain reaction with repercussions for all," Mr. Simitis said, replying to questions tabled by the leaders of the four opposition parties.

    "Nobody, in the name of the interests of his own sector, can impose his will on all," the premier said.

    The opposition strongly criticized the government and the prime minister personally over the handling of farmers' protests which have severely disrupted road and rail traffic throughout the country for the past nine days. The opposition parties in particular accused the government of refusing to hold a dialogue with the farmers which, they said, had resulted in serious problems for the entire Greek people.

    The premier replied, however, that the government was adamant that it would follow the economic policy which would guarantee a stable economy for the future and claimed that the fruits of the economic policy being followed were already apparent.

    He specifically referred to the fall in inflation to 7.7 per cent for November, down from 8.3 per cent, the first time in more than a quarter of a century that inflation has broken the 8.0 per cent barrier.

    In relation to the farmers' problems, Mr. Simitis said the government had taken drastic measures, such as transforming their pension fund into a major security fund with an initial subsidy of 14 billion drachmas annually so that farmers could have pensions equivalent to other workers.

    Indexation of farmers pensions, he added, would cost 44 billion drachmas, while the write-off of agricultural cooperative debts would cost many hundreds of million of drachmas.

    "No one measure can cancel out the sacrifices of the Greek people, to cancel out this massive attempt because certain groups close the roads. We are not prepared to do it," he said.

    Mr. Simitis said attempts by farmers and certain opposition parties, such as the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), to "renationalize" Greek agricultural policy was "a tremendous mistake" because it was exactly the thing that Germany and other major countries wanted, exercising pressure for the re-institution of national subsidies in EU farming countries.

    The premier also stressed that the government had taken measures to protect cotton farmers, saying that "all debts cannot be resettled willy-nilly. The debts which must be rescheduled are those of producers who farm products which have a real problem".

    [02] Opposition

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    On his part, main opposition party New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert claimed that the government was refusing dialogue with farmers, "acting with arrogance and disdain" and that the prime minister had personally lied to the farmers to gain their votes and was now trying to get one social group to turn against the other.

    "The government's farm policy leads to impasses and is ineffective," Mr. Evert said.

    KKE Secretary General Aleka Papariga accused the government of holding a "national spoon" which distributes money whenever it wants. She also accused the government of not abolishing tax breaks worth 600 billion drachmas.

    The Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos accused the prime minister of autocratic behavior, saying the government was following a "callous" policy of "provocative social injustice".

    He asked the prime minister why the government had made a favorable resettlelemt of the debts of tax-evaders and could not do the same for the farmers.

    The president of the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), Dimitris Tsovolas, also condemned the prime minister for his "autocratic behavior" and claimed that Mr. Simitis had "overstepped the people's mandate" and that he was only adding "fat to the fire " with his comments in Parliament.

    However, the prime minister said in his closing speech that the opposition "does not understand, does not listen and does not see."

    "It is a time of responsibility for all and for the opposition," Mr. Simitis said, calling on the parties to clarify their position on the demands puts forward by the farmers.

    In a related development, the public prosecutor's office in Larisa yesterday took legal steps against protesting farmers, initiating proceedings against "all persons responsible for obstructing communications."

    [03] Blockades

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    Farmers' roadblocks have mostly affected central and northern regions, particularly eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Epirus, and the islands of Corfu and Lefkada, while trucks have been blockaded for the sixth consecutive day at the border crossings of Promahonas, Kipoi, Kastanies and Ormenio, while Kavala international airport has also been cut off.

    No intrastate bus services to Athens, Thessaloniki and other major cities were carried out yesterday, with Olympic scheduling extra flights.

    The situation which has evolved so far is considered to be putting increased pressure on the Coordinating Committee of farmers by public opinion and various producers' groups, including certain categories of farmers of perishable goods.

    Nine business and producers' organizations (Association of Greek Industries , the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Northern Greece's Exporters' Association) yesterday issued a joint statement condemning the particular method of exercising press ure for eliciting solutions to problems, and are asking farmers to stop holding society hostage.

    Transport and export companies have begun sustaining large losses, as are shopkeepers in the provinces, due to the evolving psychology among the public which prompts them to purchase only the absolute necessities.

    Many businessmen and public organizations are reported to be considering suing for losses. In addition, the Organization of Railways of Greece (OSE) said yesterday it was sustaining losses of 30 billion drachmas daily.

    Despite the stand off between government and farmers, it appears that both sides wish to avoid a head-on collision which would benefit neither. As regards the government, it ruled out the possibility of using force to end the stalemate.

    The farmers' coordinating committee is meeting today to decide whether to escalate or otherwise the mobilizations.

    [04] November inflation crashes 8 per cent barrier, falls to 7.7 per cent

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    Greece's inflation rate dipped beneath the 8 per cent mark for November, the first time in more than 25 years.

    According to official figures released yesterday from the National Statistics Service (ESYE), inflation was calculated at an annualized rate of 7.7 per cent, down from 8.3 per cent in October.

    During the same month last year, inflation was running at 8.2 per cent, compared to 10.6 per cent in 1994.

    ESYE said that the drop from 8.3 per cent in October to 7.7 per cent in November this year was due primarily to a reduction in the prices of fuel, fruit and hotel rates.

    These decreases, ESYE added, resulted in a 0.3 per cent reduction in the Consumer Price Index in November, compared to a 0.2 per cent increase in the same month of 1995.

    [05] Public utilities given ability to sign programmatic agreements

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday submitted an amendment in Parliament giving public organizations in the energy, transport, water and telecoms networks the ability to sign programmatic agreements.

    According to a relevant EU directive, these sectors are exempt from the procedures of assigning supplies which applies to other sectors. This exemption is in force for Greece and other less developed EU countries and aims to develop industry within the country.

    On the occasion of the amendment's submission, the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) issued an announcement saying that programmatic agreements present comparative advantages for the organizations as they ensure a reduction in prices, direct access t o deliveries and fewer bureaucratic procedures.

    [06] Greece responds favorably to Irish IGC draft proposals

    Brussels, 07/12/1996 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who attended the EU Foreign Ministers' Council here yesterday, said "the new draft treaty of the European Union presented yesterday by the Irish presidency can constitute a positive basis for the beginning of negotiations for revision of the Maastricht Treaty."

    The Irish presidency's plan includes issues of particular interest for Greece, Mr. Pangalos noted, including respect of the integrity of member-states, and expression of solidarity between EU member-states.

    However, relations with Turkey and the signing of an economic and commercial co-operation agreement between the EU and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) were not discussed during yesterday's meeting.

    Speaking on yesterday's session, the foreign minister said Greece and Italy disagreed with the initial text of conclusions regarding the situation in the former Yugoslavia. Certain observations were changed following this disagreement, with the final text being approved by all.

    Referring to an invitation by the Irish presidency of Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to an EU leaders' dinner in Dublin, Mr. Pangalos said the Irish presidency has not yet taken any decisions on the issue, adding that Athens has already expressed its disagreement with the invitation to the Turkish premier.

    [07] Strike by foreign ministry employees

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    In another development, Mr. Pangalos was not accompanied by diplomats and foreign ministry employees during the session as usual, as the latter were on strike.

    The national economy ministry should examine the issue of compensation for work abroad in a different manner, Mr. Pangalos said, adding that this compensation is not a bonus and should not be taxed.

    "I agree with the government's economic policy, but the foreign ministry has already cut many of its expenses and the national economy ministry should perhaps deal with the issue differently," he said.

    [08] Premier chairs meeting focusing on IGC

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday chaired a meeting focusing on the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) in view of the presentation of the draft treaty by the Irish presidency and ahead of the European Union summit, due to be held in Dublin on Dec. 1 3-14.

    Participants included Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Foreign Under-secretary Christos Rozakis, Eurodeputy Yiannos Kranidiotis, who is also Athens' representative to the IGC, as well as other top government officials.

    Over the past weeks, Mr. Pangalos and Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou have visited several EU capitals and also held meetings with their European counterparts in Athens as part of efforts to find common ground with other member-states in order to promote Greece's positions vis-a-vis its European partners.

    The IGC, focusing on revising the Maastricht Treaty, began on March 29, 1996 in Italy, while 22 meetings have already taken place so far at a foreign ministers' level and another eight on other ministerial levels.

    A special European Council to assess IGC progress so far was held in Dublin in October. Currently, the Irish EU presidency has been focusing its efforts in narrowing down the scope of negotiations and shifting focus on alternative article provisions.

    Negotiations for the revision of the Treaty are basically structured around three primary sectors:

    a) The 15-member Union and the citizen: Basic rights, employment, policies, justice issues and internal affairs. b) Institutional issues. c) Common foreign and security policy.

    The most crucial of issues regarding Maastricht, however, is "flexibility", giving the right to certain EU member-states to group together and act autonomously from the other members.

    The Union's founding members as well as the European Commission support the principle of "flexibility", claiming this is the only way to European unification in view of future enlargement as well as the only way to curb resistance occasionally expressed by certain member-states.

    The remaining EU countries, including Greece, believe that "flexibility" should be applied selectively and under strict conditions.

    Institutional reform is another crucial issue currently considered by the IGC and anticipated to draw more attention in the last stages of negotiations.

    Greece submitted a "written statement" last May with its views on the role of the European Parliament and a memorandum in September on its positions regarding European political parties.

    The conference is also focusing on a Common Foreign and Security Policy and the prospects of reinforcing Europe's defense "identity."

    In June, Athens submitted its positions on the Common Foreign and Security Policy, including the need to reinforce its goals and principles through incorporating the principle of border inviolability, respect for territorial integrity and political independence of member-states.

    In October, Mr. Pangalos submitted a draft revision of the Treaty's 1.1 Article.

    Regarding the defense sector, views differ between neutral non-aligned members and member-states of NATO and the Western European Union (WEU).

    The latter organization - with the exception of Britain - support the gradual incorporation of the WEU into the European Union. Taking this position one step further, Germany, followed by Italy and Greece, pursue the establishment of a "collective defense clause," which will be open to those wishing to assume such commitments and obligations.

    Greece has submitted a series of memorandums on the sectors of tourism, energy and political protection, including a memorandum for the development of the European Union's border islands.

    The IGC is also centering on employment-related issues.

    On his part, Prime Minister Simitis has stressed the need for consideration by the IGC of European citizens' concerns on employment and external security and therefore, solidarity between the member-states regarding the guarantee of respect of the Union' s external borders.

    [09] G. Papandreou comments on Athens' efforts for peace in region

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    Greece is focusing efforts on development and reinforcing co-operation in the Balkan region, Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou told an interview with the BBC yesterday.

    Referring to Greece's traditional ties with the countries of the region, as well as Greece's participation in the peace initiatives and the reconstruction of Yugoslavia, Mr. Papandreou said Greece was pressuring the former warring states to consolidate peace in the region.

    Mr. Papandreou said regional co-operation could lead to an environment of stability, which is necessary for the consolidation of peace.

    "Our aim is to create a multinational community operating at the principles of human rights protection, stability and economic development," he said.

    [10] Navy honors its patron saint

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Navy celebrated its patron, Agios Nicholas, yesterday at a special ceremony at the Naval Cadets Academy in the presence of President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Also present were National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, National Defense Under-secretary Dimitris Apostolakis, the armed forces leadership and other national and local officials.

    In a statement, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos praised the efforts of the Hellenic Navy in achieving national goals. At the same time, he referred to the sacrifices of its members this year, who lost their lives serving duty.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that the state will support every effort and initiative by the navy for its modernization and restructuring, as well as for the improvement of its staff.

    In his order of the day, Navy General Staff Chief Rear-Adm. Leonidas Paliogiorgos referred to increasing Turkish provocativeness and said the Aegean, an inseparable part of Hellenism which starts in Thrace and ends in Cyprus, is threatened by Turkish expansionism.

    [11] Apostolakis notes importance of Balkan co-operation in defense sector

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    National Defense Under-secretary Dimitris Apostolakis told a symposium here yesterday that Greece's policy in the Balkans was aimed at further developing co-operation with its northern neighbors, which included co-operation in the defense sector.

    Mr. Apostolakis cited Greece's co-operation with Albania and Bulgaria within the framework of the program "Partnership for Peace", preliminary steps being taken as part of the program in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as well as the country's participation in the implementation of the Bosnian peace accord.

    He was speaking at the opening session of a two-day international symposium on the subject of "Balkans and Mediterranean - partners for stability and co-operation - The role of international organizations - The role of Greece", organized by the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Co-operation.

    Greece's position, Mr. Apostolakis said, was that southeastern Europe should constitute an integral part of European structures and the countries of the region should be incorporated in European organizations.

    "The new Europe must be built without new dividing lines on the basis of the principles which govern international law and the relevant treaties. The use of force or the threat of force as a means of solving any disputes between countries cannot be accepted," he said.

    [12] Rozakis says latest Turkish policy forwarding 'territorial claims"

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    Foreign Under-secretary Christos Rozakis told Parliament yesterday that Turkey was following a "slippery" road and new tactics, which he described as "creeping territorial claims."

    The issue of Greek-Turkish relations and the government's foreign policy was brought up in Parliament following questions by main opposition New Democracy deputies.

    Mr. Rozakis said resorting to the International Court at The Hague was the final option for peaceful settlement. He said the other option would be to resume negotiations, "a process from which Greece has a bitter experience."

    Regarding US initiatives, the foreign under-secretary said the government had to consider them first before deciding whether to accept or reject them.

    New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert likened the possibility of Greece resorting to the International Court at the Hague to signing an agreement with Turkey for six nautical miles in the Aegean, and thus abandoning negotiation leverage.

    Replying to criticism regarding a US proposed moratorium of military overflights as part of a variety of measures aimed to reduce political tension in Cyprus, Mr. Rozakis said consultations at the moment were focusing on mere thoughts and not proposals.

    [13] Simitis to officially visit The Hague this month

    The Hague, 07/12/1996 (ANA / AFP)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will pay a visit to the Netherlands on Dec. 12, according to a report by the Dutch government's information service (RVD) yesterday.

    During his stay in the country, Mr. Simitis will hold talks with his Dutch counterpart Vim Kok, sources said.

    [14] More Turkish violations of Greek airspace reported

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    Turkish aircraft formations violated air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) and Greek national airspace on eight occasions yesterday between Lesvos and Hios, east of Rhodes and between Limnos and Lesvos, reports state.

    In all cases, the Turkish aircraft were intercepted and escorted out of Greek airspace by Hellenic Air Force fighter planes.

    Meanwhile, the Turkish military exercise codenamed "Gildirim Deniz" currently being carried out in international waters in the central Aegean is scheduled to end this morning.

    According to reports, yesterday's exercises were held off the coast of Skyros, outside Greek territorial waters.

    [15] Stephanopoulos to tour flood-stricken regions

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will visit the flood-stricken prefecture of Xanthi today, traveling by military helicopter from Thessaloniki and remaining in the city of Xanthi until the afternoon.

    During his stay, he will be briefed on damages caused by the floods from regional officials.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos will tour the city of Xanthi and probably other stricken areas.

    [16] Evert to meet with ND cadres in Achaia

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert will arrive in Patra this afternoon for contacts with party cadres from the Achaia region and western Greece.

    Mr. Evert will speak at a hotel at 7 in the evening and will refer to the current political situation prevailing in the country.

    He will also take the opportunity to meet representatives of the business and social partner sectors and comment on the issue of the farmers' mobilizations.

    [17] No decision taken on Cyprus flyover moratorium, Reppas says

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday that a dialogue on the issue of a possible moratorium on flyovers by combat aircraft over Cyprus had ended and that no decisions had been taken.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that "in the present circumstances there can be no agreement concerning a moratorium on overflights over Cyprus", citing inter alia recent statements by Turkish President Suleyman Demirel. The United States pro posed a moratorium on flyovers as a measure aimed at reducing tension and the potential for violence on the divided island.

    [18] Athens rejects charges of mistreatment of immigrants

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday that no one should doubt Greece's willingness to be a host country for the citizens of other states, in response to a reference in the annual report of the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas made the statement when asked to comment on a reference in the report claiming that the fate of nine Albanians was still unknown following police round-ups and deportations of illegal immigrants in March.

    "The authors of such reports should know that Greek society is at a very high level in this respect, indeed a level which many other countries should envy," Mr. Reppas said.

    [19] US displeased over convicted terrorists' early release

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    The United States on Thursday expressed displeasure over the release and deportation of convicted Palestinian terrorist Mohammed Rashid by Greece.

    According to an ANA dispatch from Washington, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns told a press briefing that Rashid "is a terrorist who deserves to be behind bars," adding "it is inexplicable to us why he would have been allowed to leave Greece be fore serving his just sentence... This is an incomprehensible move."

    Rashid left Greece on Thursday after being freed from prison early for good behavior after serving 8.5 years of a 15-year sentence.

    "We understand that the Council (of Piraeus) based its decision on the fact that Mr. Rashid was a model prisoner. This is an extraordinary assessment, given that Mr. Rashid led a prison uprising, while prohibited goods and weapons were found in his cell," Mr. Burns said.

    He said the US government had conveyed its positions to the Greek government in Athens and the Greek Embassy in Washington.

    Rashid, 46, was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment by a Greek court in 1992 for premeditated murder in the 1982 midair bombing of a Pan American airliner in which a Japanese teenager was killed.

    In 1993 his sentence was reduced to 15 years, while a parole court recently ruled that he could be freed after serving 8.5 years, but must be expelled immediately. His time in detention before his sentencing was calculated as part of his sentence.

    He was taken to Athens airport after his release where he boarded a flight to Cairo, from where he was to travel to Tunis.

    [20] Relief aid funneled to Thrace

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    Citibank has donated 20 million drachmas to the Greek Red Cross to help relieve the plight of residents in Thrace affected by last weekend's heavy rains, which resulted in flooding and four deaths.

    The donation was originally to be given as Christmas gifts to the bank's customers and clients. Meanwhile, the environment, town planning and public works ministry yesterday sent a further 130 million drachmas to the Xanthi prefecture for flood victims, many of whom have been left homeless. The money, from the ministry's reserve fund, will be given to victims on the basis of lists drawn up by municipal and community authorities.

    Each family affected by the floods is entitled to the sum of 200,000 drachmas as emergency relief aid. At the same time, residents of flooded villages began to be vaccinated yesterday by members of the Red Cross in an effort to prevent the outbreak and spread of diseases.

    [21] ITO Conference

    Athens, 07/12/1996 (ANA)

    The first conference of the International Trade Organization, focusing on the free movement of goods, will be held on December in Singapore with the participation of 124 countries.

    Greece will be represented at the meeting by National Economy Under-secretary Alexandros Baltas and the ministry's Secretary-General Nikos Zachariadis.

    End of English language section.

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