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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 96-12-16

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 1067), December 16, 1996

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] Simitis pleased with outcome of Dublin EU summit
  • [02] Papandreou responds to Ciller
  • [03] ND welcomes 'first timid step in right direction'
  • [04] EU calls on Turkey to work on Cyprus Aegean and human rights issues
  • [05] Simitis to chair meeting on continuing farmers' protests today
  • [06] Dissension in ND ranks over support for farmers
  • [07] Papariga lashes out at government
  • [08] Farmers' road blocks are politically motivated, ATE official says
  • [09] Tsovolas criticizes Gov't for not talking to party leaders
  • [10] Kaklamanis returns from Black Sea meeting
  • [11] Council of Overseas Greeks meets today in Thessaloniki

  • [01] Simitis pleased with outcome of Dublin EU summit

    Dublin, 16/12/1996 (ANA - S. Liarellis)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis was visibly pleased with the outcome of the Dublin European Union summit on Saturday, saying that Greece had achieved "progress and successes" in all its objectives.

    What is positive for Greece, Mr. Simitis told a press conference, was the summit's conclusions on relations between the Union and Turkey, which reiterated the validity of the July 15 statement issued by EU foreign ministers.

    The July 15 statement, Mr. Simitis said, would from now on constitute the basis of discussions.

    Mr. Simitis stressed that it was accepted that serious issues exist in relations between the EU and Turkey and mention is made of improving human rights. He said the fact the conclusions referred to Turkey's role in the Cyprus issue is important.

    Following the ratification of the text, he said, French President Jacques Chirac termed the document "very harsh" which prompted the Greek prime minister to take the floor and say Greece believes that the document should be completely different and referred to latest developments, such as the crisis over the Imia islets and Turkey's attitude.

    German Chancellor Helmut Kohl said the Europeans should not push Turkey into the corner, proposing a special discussion on the issue in the future but adding, however, that he is disappointed with Turkey's position.

    Diplomatic sources said the references to Turkey in the conclusions also constituted an indirect political reply to a letter addressed by Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller to Irish Foreign Minister Dick Spring last week.

    Turkish President Suleyman Demirel also addressed letters to the "15" heads of state.

    Referring to future candidates for EU accession, President Demirel said "Turkey is worth more than any other country", adding that "there are problems with our neighbors, but Turkey cannot resolve them by itself. Mutual and sincere efforts are required by all the parties involved and Turkey is ready to confront problems in a constructive manner." However, the word dialogue is not contained in the two-page letter.

    Mr. Simitis, who was one of the 15 recipients of the letter, said he will reply to the Turkish president in time.

    Replying to questioners, he said Greece has nothing to propose to Turkey, since it has been expecting specific moves on its part for many months.

    Another important development, Mr. Simitis continued, was the fact that the Madrid timetable has been confirmed in relation to Cyprus' accession to the EU.

    Commenting on the Intergovernmental Conference, Mr. Simitis said the fact the principle of integrity and respect for the UN Charter is included is a very important step but that this is not enough as far as Greece is concerned since it wants specific reference to the border issue. He pointed out, however, that the concept of external borders is accepted among the third pylon issues (asylum, immigrants, etc.).

    Mr. Simitis said progress was achieved on the issues of economic and monetary unification and that proposals on the automatic imposition of fines on countries participating in Economic and Monetary Union in the event they deviated from targets set by the Maastricht Treaty were not accepted.

    He said the prevailing view was that political criteria should be taken into consideration and referred to the acceptance of the Greek proposal that unusual events should be accepted.

    Greece believes that the invocation of increased defense expenditure can be made in this context. It recently announced a four trillion drachma weapons procurements and upgrade program, spread out over ten years.

    [02] Papandreou responds to Ciller

    Dublin, 16/12/1996 (ANA)

    A working dinner given for Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller by the Irish European Union presidency on Saturday night, attended by EU foreign ministers and Greek Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou, focused on a presentation of positions and differences between Greece and Turkey.

    Presiding Irish Foreign Minister Dick Spring started the discussion with a briefing on the EU summit's conclusions and was followed by Ms Ciller, who presented Turkey's known positions.

    According to reports, she expressed dissatisfaction over the fact the EU maintains a freeze on relations and funds emanating from the customs union agreement, saying that this attitude is different from the ambitions Turkey has for the EU.

    She reiterated that Greek-Turkish differences can be resolved with direct dialogue.

    Mr. Papandreou analyzed Greek positions, stressing that Greece supports Turkey's European orientation on condition, however, that Turkey will honor international rules and comply with the decisions taken by the EU Council on July 15.

    Mr. Papandreou set as a precondition Turkey's taking the Imia islets issue to the International Court at The Hague, and to prove its good intentions for progress between relations with both the EU and Greece. Moreover, he also raised the issues of Cyprus, provocations in the Aegean and the violation of human rights.

    [03] ND welcomes 'first timid step in right direction'

    Athens, 16/12/1996 (ANA)

    The main opposition New Democracy party yesterday called on the European Union to "understand that any further rapprochement between the EU and Turkey depends on Turkey's showing tangible proof of sincere and full respect of Greece and Cyprus' territorial integrity and sovereign rights as well as international law in its entirety".

    Reacting to the conclusions of the Dublin summit, party spokesman Prokopis Pavlopolulos said the decisions taken constituted a "first timid step in the right direction" adding that the "EU should also realize that Greece has not simply exhausted but sur passed, and this to the detriment of its national interests, all limits of good will concerning the defusion of the crisis, which, with Turkey's responsibility, affects negatively the two countries' relations and threatens peace in the region."

    [04] EU calls on Turkey to work on Cyprus Aegean and human rights issues

    Dublin, 16/12/1996 (ANA - S. Liarellis)

    The European Union summit has accepted the foreign ministers' declaration of July 15 as a basis for furthering relations between the EU and Turkey.

    According to the presidency conclusions, the 15 EU leaders invite the presidency "to continue its efforts following the Council's declaration of 15 July 1996 to promote an acceptable solution to the situation in the Aegean area in accordance with established international norms and to pursue contacts with the Turkish Government with a view to an early (EU-Turkey) Association Council".

    The July 15 declaration inter alia calls on Turkey to refrain from using or threatening the use of force and to have recourse to the International Court at the Hague with regard to its territorial claims against Greece.

    The conclusions also contain a call by EU leaders on Turkey to use all its influence to contribute to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem in line with UN Security Council resolutions.

    The text of the presidency conclusions pertaining to Turkey is as follows:

    "The European Council reaffirms the importance it attaches to the further development of the EU's relations with Turkey in both the economic and political fields. It notes with regret, however, that certain serious issues remain to be resolved in the relationship. The European Council welcomes the Turkish Government's stated intention to take measures to improve the human rights situation. In the context of closer partnership with the European Union, it emphasizes the need for the observances of the highest standards of human rights.

    "The European Council invites the Presidency to continue its efforts following the Council's declaration of 15 July 1996 to promote an acceptable solution to the situation in the Aegean area in accordance with established international norms and to pursue contacts with the Turkish government with a view to an early Association Council.

    "The European Council urges Turkey to use its influence to contribute to a solution in Cyprus in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions."

    [05] Simitis to chair meeting on continuing farmers' protests today

    Athens, 16/12/1996 (ANA)

    The farmers' protests and reactions by social groups against the new state budget will be examined at government and party meetings today.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will chair a government meeting at the Maximos Mansion this morning and at noon he will chair a meeting of his ruling PASOK party's Political Secretariat.

    Government members expressed some optimism over the farmers' issue yesterday, although the government would like a quicker de-escalation and avoidance of a coincidence of farmers' and others' mobilizations, something which will be difficult to avoid.

    After returning from Dublin, Mr. Simitis was briefed last night on developments concerning the farmers' front by his close associates George Paschalidis and Theodoros Tsoukatos.

    The Political Secretariat meeting, apart from the farmers' issue, will also discuss mobilization planned by the working people's trade union organizations in light of a start to the Parliamentary debate on the state budget and the possibility of government deputies distancing their views on the issue.

    Farmers in the region of Thessaly yesterday said they would hold out to the last, following the latest meeting of a coordinating committee.

    Farmers yesterday handed the region's Secretary-General a list of six demands, and submitted a request for mediation with the government so that the current stalemate may be overcome.

    Wednesday is considered a crucial day for developments, when it is hoped, Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas will have some positive proposals on his return from Brussels.

    Mr. Tzoumakas is expected to broach the issue of support for Greek farmers whose crops have been affected by adverse weather, as well as production subsidies and cotton pricing, at a meeting of the European Union's agriculture ministers today.

    In Thessaloniki, road blocks remained in place at entry points to the city, despite a gradual relaxation of protests by farmers in Macedonia.

    The road blocks had also left the prefecture of Rodopi without natural gas and many industries were facing a lack of raw materials or were unable to export their products. The prefecture's industries federation is expected to file suit this coming week against those responsible.

    In the Peloponnese, meanwhile, the old and new national roads continued to be blocked at Aigio, with subsequent tension between protesting farmers and enclaved truck drivers.

    [06] Dissension in ND ranks over support for farmers

    Athens, 16/12/1996 (ANA)

    Former New Democracy prime minister George Rallis has differentiated his position from that of incumbent leader Miltiades Evert on farmers' blockades of national and provincial highways which have cut the country in two.

    "I do not agree with showing solidarity with every form of mobilization. The blockading of national highways is an unacceptable method," he said in an interview with the Sunday "Eleftherotypia" newspaper, adding indirect criticism of Mr. Evert for putting his party and personal interests before the national one.

    Former New Democracy national economy minister Stephanos Manos also criticized the farmers' actions in an interview with the same newspaper, calling on them to "withdraw by themselves", and criticizing Mr. Evert's statement last week that, "if the cost of their demands does not exceed 200 billion drachmas, they should be met".

    "If something like this takes place, then we shall have a new blockade by some social group every day, each one asking for 200 billion," he said.

    Aspiring main opposition leader George Souflias said in an interview with "Kathimerini" yesterday that he had told farmers that "certain things could be done and others not", and that "the agricultural problem in our country stands above traditional party lines.

    "A serious and responsible medium-term agricultural policy should aim at competition, without national subsidies," he added.

    [07] Papariga lashes out at government

    Athens, 16/12/1996 (ANA)

    Meanwhile, Communist Party Secretary-General Aleka Papariga yesterday criticized the government's "authoritarian, uncompromising, and inhuman" attitude towards the farmers.

    Referring to the EU Dublin summit, Ms Papariga said "the prime minister has again returned empty-handed, as the EU does not guarantee Greek borders. The government could use farmers' blockades as a negotiating weapon to exercise pressure on EU organs".

    On Saturday, Ms Papariga launched a fresh attack against the government over its handling of farmers' protests which for the past 18 days have resulted in a nationwide blockade of roads and rail links.

    Speaking at a press conference in Larissa during a tour of Thessaly, Ms Papariga said there was no such thing as an "impasse" to the problems facing the country in the agricultural sector and described the farmers' demands as "specific, realistic and just".

    Rather than taking a tough stand against the farmers, the KKE leader said, the government should stand up against the European Union.

    [08] Farmers' road blocks are politically motivated, ATE official says

    Athens, 16/12/1996 (ANA)

    Farmers' mobilizations will de-escalate throughout Greece except Thessaly this week, PASOK Agricultural Cooperatives Bureau Secretary and Deputy Governor of the Agricultural Bank (ATE) Thanasis Papageorgiou said in an interview with the ANA on Saturday.

    Mr. Papageorgiou said that the farmers' protests were politically-motivated and that although cotton farmers in certain parts of Thessaly were facing a real problem with a reduction in production, their decision to block the Athens-Thessaloniki highway was politically motivated and aimed at creating a serious problem to the national economy.

    The re-scheduling of farmers' debts is in the interests of the Agricultural Bank, as they rationalize its portfolio, he added, but are also socially unfair because there are farmers who did not receive loans, and who are not benefiting.

    The solution to the stalemate that has arisen can only come through dialogue on the structural problems of agriculture, not just on those that become apparent when roadblocks are erected, Mr. Papageorgiou said.

    [09] Tsovolas criticizes Gov't for not talking to party leaders

    Athens, 16/12/1996 (ANA)

    The farmers' mobilizations were the main topic of conversation between guests at a reception hosted by President Kostis Stephanopoulos on Saturday for representatives of the media.

    Among the political leaders present, New Democracy's Miltiades Evert, and the Coalition of the Left's Nikos Constantopoulos declined comment, but Democratic Social Movement leader Dimitris Tsovolas criticized the prime minister for not agreeing to hold dialogue with the other leaders on the farmers' issue.

    [10] Kaklamanis returns from Black Sea meeting

    Athens, 16/12/1996 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Saturday returned to Athens from Georgia, where he participated in the Parliamentary Convention of the Black Sea Co-operation Organization (BSECO), whose presidency he will assume in the first half of 1997.

    In statements at the airport, Mr. Kaklamanis said that "Greece and its people hold a special regard for the peoples of these countries, the countries of the former Soviet Union which are participating in BSECO."

    In Tbilisi, Mr. Kaklamanis met with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, with whom he had a long discussion covering the whole spectrum of the two countries' relations, as well as more general issues.

    [11] Council of Overseas Greeks meets today in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 16/12/1996 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou will participate in the Council of Overseas Greeks (SAE) which meets today at its permanent headquarters in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.

    Also taking part in the two-day SAE meeting will be the Parliamentary inter-party committee for issues concerning overseas Greeks, the President of the World Interparliamentary Union of Hellenism, Victoria (Australia) State deputy Dimitris Dollis and Swedish deputy Nikos Papadopoulos, both of whom are of Greek origin.

    Macedonia-Thrace Minister Philippos Petsalnikos is also expected to attend the Council's sessions.

    Meanwhile, SAE President Andrew Athens was a guest of honor at a dinner given by Thessaloniki Prefect Costas Papadopoulos last night.

    End of English language section.


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