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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 96-12-21

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 (1072), December 21, 1996

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


CONTENTS

  • [01] PNO calls off strike, ferry boats scheduled to sail
  • [02] Clashes
  • [03] Stranded Greek truckers amassing in Italian ports
  • [04] Civil aviation strike suspended
  • [05] More aggressive economic policy for Balkans, E. Europe considered
  • [06] Trikoupis exhibit inaugurated
  • [07] Stephanopoulos message to expatriate
  • [08] Premier meets with Fouras
  • [09] Stephanopoulos arrives in Egypt for official visit
  • [10] Gov't: Ambassador in Peru instructed not to return to terrorists
  • [11] Greece says no problem in Cyprus' purchase of Russian missiles
  • [12] EU absorption rate sparks latest PASOK, ND clash during Parliament budget discussion
  • [13] Simitis to meet farmers' reps after Thessaloniki-area blockades lifted
  • [14] Thessaly still holding out
  • [15] Athens Mayor meets with Prime Minister
  • [16] EU tourism ministers fail to implement Philoxenia program
  • [17] Mortgage Bank announces measures for flood-stricken
  • [18] Greek products exhibit in Cyprus
  • [19] Protection measures for EYDAP consumers announced

  • [01] PNO calls off strike, ferry boats scheduled to sail

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    More than 15 passenger ferry boats were expected to sail from Piraeus until the early morning hours, carrying more than 5,000 passengers and 2,000 trucks with goods to Aegean islands, Crete and the Dodecanese, after a decision by the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) last night to call off their strike.

    PNO members had begun their strike on Monday, which affected all Greek-flagged vessels throughout the world.

    Earlier, the finance ministry announced that it had committed itself to finding a commonly acceptable decision with the seamen's union, the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and the Piraeus Labor Center on merchant marine issues, which will provide the basis for a debate in Parliament.

    The announcement came after a meeting between Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis, Finance Under-secretary Giorgos Drys, and other bodies involved.

    The PNO originally called a 48-hour strike in support of their demand that the government not proceed with plans to abolish seamen's special fiscal status, according to which their income is taxed.

    It was subsequently extended for two days and then, yesterday, for a further 24 hours.

    In a related development, a Piraeus court ruled Thursday that the strike was illegal and asked the PNO to immediately call off all protest action.

    "We do not accept coercion from the shipowning companies which are asking Greek captains not only to carry on sailing vessels but also to impose sanctions on striking seamen," PNO general secretary Yiannis Halas said.

    [02] Clashes

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    Meanwhile, striking seamen and port police clashed yesterday at the northwestern port of Igoumenitsa when the ferry board "Brindisi" tried to depart with some 50 trucks for the Italian port of the same name.

    The clash took place on the ramp of the ferry boat, from which one protesting seaman fell and was taken to a nearby hospital at Philiates.

    Another protester climbed on to one of the vessel's mooring ropes in an effort to prevent it leaving the port, but fell into the sea. He also was taken to the hospital.

    The Brindisi finally managed to sail at 3:15 p.m. local time, while the situation at Igoumenitsa is reported at presstime to be calm.

    PNO threatened to call a new 48-hour on Jan. 8, 1997, if the government does not stick to the agreement reached.

    [03] Stranded Greek truckers amassing in Italian ports

    Rome, 21/12/1996 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)

    More than 500 Greek transport trucks have been isolated in three Italian ports, awaiting the end of the seamen's strike in Greece.

    In Ancona, 150 Greek trucks have jammed the road leading to the port, creating a traffic problem in the city.

    In Bari, where the situation is slightly better, 160 Greek and 70 Turkish trucks have been accommodated inside the port compound for fear of thefts.

    In Brindisi, about 200 trucks have been stranded inside and outside the port.

    [04] Civil aviation strike suspended

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    Airport employees suspended a 24-hour nationwide strike scheduled for yesterday, and all domestic and foreign flights were carried out normally.

    The strike was called by the Federation of Civil Aviation Employee Associations (OSYPA) demanding that four employee benefits be excluded from the new scalary sale, an 8.0 percent salary increase and legislation of overtime and holiday remuneration.

    [05] More aggressive economic policy for Balkans, E. Europe considered

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou held a business summit at her own initiative at the industry ministry yesterday, which was attended by business leaders Vardis Vardinoyiannis, Sokratis Kokkalis, Dimitris Kopelouzos and Spyros Latsis.

    The meeting focused on the government's plan to implement an aggressive economic co-operation policy with Balkan and eastern European countries in the sectors of industry and energy. In the framework of promoting the government's plan, more meetings will be held with business representatives and finalized decisions will be announced after an enlarged meeting is chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    [06] Trikoupis exhibit inaugurated

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis inaugurated an exhibition yesterday on Greece's premier 19th century statesman Harilaos Trikoupis, which coincided with the 100th anniversary of his death.

    Mr. Simitis said "Greece's present image in the Balkans and the world is due to Trikoupis' initiatives, his conception of Hellenism and to his beliefs that the country must have a strong economy to enable Greece to play a role."

    Mr. Kaklamanis said Trikoupis was the "politician who substantively prepared Greece's entry into the 20th century with boldness, realism and planning."

    The inauguration of the exhibition, entitled "Harilaos Trikoupis - 100 Years of Memory", and housed in the Eleftherios Venizelos Hall in Parliament, was attended by many deputies, party leaders, personalities from the cultural sector and descendants of Harilaos Trikoupis.

    [07] Stephanopoulos message to expatriate

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    The operation of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad has brought to the surface the contribution of the expatriate Greeks in the promotion of the country's national issues, President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos said yesterday.

    In a message to expatriate Greeks on the occasion of the holiday season, Mr. Stephanopoulos said that despite efforts and even though positive steps have been noted over the past year, Greece's national issues have been left pending.

    "International circumstances as well as the general confusion and uncertainty prevailing in the world as a result of the changes which have been noted and continue to be noted in the Balkans and elsewhere the economic superpowers of the earth have not allowed settlement to our national issues," Mr. Stephanopoulos said.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos said that existing difficulties urge for national unity and co-operation.

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou also sent a message to the expatriate Greeks stressing that "this era is rife with danger and action while at the same time is opening routes to development, peace, and co-operation."

    [08] Premier meets with Fouras

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday received Sports Under-secretary Andreas Fouras, who briefed him on developments regarding the Athens Olympic Committee's efforts to win the 2004 Olympic Games.

    Mr. Fouras also briefed the premier on the Greek hosting of the 1997 World Athletics Championship and an array of problems facing the sports world in Greece.

    [09] Stephanopoulos arrives in Egypt for official visit

    Cairo, 21/12/1996 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)

    Bilateral relations between Greece and Egypt and developments in the southeastern Mediterranean are expected to be the focal point of talks here today between President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak.

    President Stephanopoulos arrived in Alexandria yesterday on the first stop of his official four-day visit to Egypt, where he received a warm welcome from members of the local ethnic Greek community. It was the first ever visit to Alexandria by a Greek p resident.

    Diplomatic observers said Greece and Egypt are not faced with any special problems in their bilateral relations but, on the contrary, must seek ways of further expanding relations.

    According to reports, President Stephanopoulos in his meeting with President Mubarak and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos in his meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, Amr Mousa, are expected to brief the Egyptian side on Greek national issues, the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations.

    Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan had visited Cairo last October, while President Mubarak visited Ankara last July.

    During a special ceremony, the ethnic Greeks from Alexandria briefed President Stephanopoulos on problems they are facing, such as the provision of Egyptian nationality to Greek businessmen in Egypt and the establishment of an archaeological academy at a postgraduate level under the name "Alexander the Great." President Stephanopoulos said the Greek foreign minister will address these issues and try to find solutions with the Egyptian side, adding that a Greek-Egyptian university should be established i n Alexandria.

    Mr. Stephanopoulos visited the seat of the Patriarchate during his stay in Alexandria, where he said the best candidate should be elected to succeed the late Patriarch Parthenios. In the afternoon he was given a guided tour of the Kait Bey Castle, built on the spot where the lighthouse of Alexandria stood, and the house where the poet Constantine Cavafy lived.

    President Stephanopoulos left for Cairo late in the afternoon where today, before meeting President Mubarak, he will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and at the monument created where late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat was assassinated on Oct. 6, 1981.

    [10] Gov't: Ambassador in Peru instructed not to return to terrorists

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    The government said yesterday that its ambassador in Peru had been instructed "to use the opportunity given to him to escape" from the Tupac Amaru guerrillas, who are still holding about 200 people hostage at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima.

    "This was the message given to (Ambassador Alcibiades) Karokis, when he was a prisoner, through his wife," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in reply to press questions.

    The Greek envoy was released by the guerrillas along with three other ambassadors to negotiate with the Peruvian government on their behalf. Mr. Karokis, like the ambassadors of Germany and France, did not return to the embassy.

    Only the Canadian ambassador returned. Diplomatic sources said all the European diplomatic missions in Lima agreed with the decision on the European ambassadors' getaway.

    Asked why Mr. Karokis did not play the role of mediator as requested by the guerrillas, Mr. Reppas replied that ambassadors are representatives of their respective countries and "the Greek government did not assign the role of mediator to our envoy in Lima."

    [11] Greece says no problem in Cyprus' purchase of Russian missiles

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    Greece said yesterday that there was "no problem" in contacts between Cyprus and Russia concerning Nicosia's plans to purchase several S-300 surface-to-air missiles from Moscow in order to bolster its defense against air attack.

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas added that the S-300 was not an "aggressive" weapons system and reiterated a similar statement by Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

    Mr. Reppas made the statement when asked to comment on remarks by Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller, who claimed that on her recent trip to Moscow, she had received assurances that Russia would not go ahead with the sale after beating her fist on the desk of Russian Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin four times.

    A Russian diplomat who was present at the Ciller-Chernomyrdin meeting later categorically rejected that such assurances had been given. According to an ANA dispatch from Moscow late last night, Russia denied categorically Ms Ciller's statements.

    Michail Tarasov, an aide to Mr. Chernomyrdin, told ANA that Ms Ciller's statements "do not correspond to reality".

    According to Mr. Tarasov, the Russian premier supported, during his talks with the Turkish foreign minister, the demilitarization of the island republic, underlining at the same time that under present circumstances, if Cyprus did not buy arms from Russia it would purchase them elsewhere.

    [12] EU absorption rate sparks latest PASOK, ND clash during Parliament budget discussion

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    Yesterday evening's budget debate in Parliament was marked by a renewed clash between National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert on the issue of absorption of European Union funds.

    Mr. Evert produced national economy ministry figures, claiming that funds amounting to 1.85 trillion drachmas had been lost in the last three years. The minister replied, acknowledging that funds had indeed been lost during the first six months of the initiation of programs, chiefly due to the lack of planning by the previous New Democracy government.

    He added that there was an upward rate in the absorption of funds, which was 45 per cent in 1994, 70 per cent in 1995 and 100 per cent this year. He reiterated that all available funds would be absorbed and that the Thessaloniki metro and the Aheloos River diversion projects would be implemented.

    On her part, Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said the Greek people had given the government "a mandate for confrontation with all large and small interests that kept the country away from the year 2000, from a united Europe and development".

    She added that the government's development program contained significant institutional reforms, including preparation of the Public Power Corp. (DEH) for a deregulation of the energy market, 18 institutional plans for industry and 300 operational business plans involving a total sum of 512 billion drachmas.

    She also referred to a significant number of projects for tourism, and legislation regarding consumer protection, fair competition, the insurance market and the system of public procurement.

    [13] Simitis to meet farmers' reps after Thessaloniki-area blockades lifted

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    After a decision of the Macedonia-Thrace Farmers' Coordinating Committee to suspend mobilizations and lift roadblocks yesterday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas announced that Prime Minister Costas Simitis has accepted their proposal for a meeting.

    "The prime minister will receive a five-member delegation of the Macedonia-Thrace Farmers' Coordinating Committee at 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 23. The meeting is within the framework of a broader dialogue on the problems of Greek agriculture," he specified.

    Road access to Thessaloniki from the surrounding prefectures was restored yesterday morning after farmers lifted their blockade at the Malgara toll post on the Thessaloniki-Athens highway.

    However, the protesting farmers left a small number of tractors at the side of the road at Malgara and did not rule out re-blocking the road for a few hours later in the day. The same tactic was adopted by farmers Thursday in Pieria prefecture , who opened the last remaining roadblocks in the area at Variko and Aiginio on the Thessaloniki-Athens highway, only to again block the road at the same two points this morning.

    The government has insisted over the more than three weeks of the blockades that there can be no dialogue between protesting farmers and Mr. Simitis, as long as they continued to block the country's road and rail links.

    Representatives of farmers in Macedonia and Thrace warned, however, that if the dialogue with the premier proved to be fruitless they would resume their protests in mid-January.

    In a related development, Mr. Reppas said that following Thursday's mass protest rally in Athens by farmers, "the process of dialogue remains open."

    He added that the government had already replied to three of the six "points" raised by farmers, adding that "anyone can put forward demands but it is the government which charts policy and is responsible for tackling problems in the way it sees fit."

    The spokesman also attacked opposition parties, saying that "the silence of the political party leaders concerning the damaging and provocative" farmers' blockades "speaks volumes."

    "I am surprised by the fact that the (opposition) leaders do not take a stance concerning the inability of citizens to freely travel, particularly on the eve of the Christmas holidays," Mr. Reppas said.

    The spokesman called on farmers "and all others who have the ability to contribute to the unblocking of the roads" to do so.

    [14] Thessaly still holding out

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    In contrast to their northern colleagues, the Panthessaly Farmers' Coordinating Committee decided after a four-hour meeting yesterday to "continue the struggle" and the blockades of national and provincial highways in the broader region.

    Although the decision was adopted unanimously, reliable sources said that strong disagreements have begun arising among the members on the committee, while the main opposition New Democracy-affiliated farmers are blaming their representatives on the committee for not accepting a proposal for a 12-hour withdrawal of tractors from the roads.

    Other reports state that many farmers have begun pressuring committee members for a withdrawal, and that there had been "de-sertions" from the blockades at Tempi and Volos. However, the largest roadblock, at the Biokarpet site, manned by farmers from the predominantly cotton-growing region of Karditsa, reportedly remained intact.

    Finally, the situation in Larisa has deteriorated due to the blockades, with small clothes manufacturers having already suffered losses estimated at 1.5 billion drachmas.

    [15] Athens Mayor meets with Prime Minister

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor and Central Union of Greek Municipalities and Communities (KEDKE) President Dimitris Avrampoulos received an assurance from Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday that legislation outlining finances of Local Government Organizations (OTA) will not be changed. Mr. Simitis met with Mr. Avramopoulos in Parliament.

    "The specific legislation institutes local governments' economic autonomy. Its correct implementation remains of paramount significance and any change will bring negative repercussions in the nation's municipalities and communities' budgetary capabilities and developmental actions..." a KEDKE memorandum handed to the prime minister states.

    [16] EU tourism ministers fail to implement Philoxenia program

    Brussels, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    European Union tourism ministers' failure, during their recent meeting in Dublin, to consider the Philoxenia program for tourism promotion has caused bitterness in numerous business sectors involved in the industry and in a number of countries, including Greece.

    Philoxenia, the EU's modest tourism plan proposed this year by the Union's second Directorate General, was apparently postponed at the instigation of one member-state, according to Olivier Lepine, president of the European Federation of Conference Towns (EFCT) and the chairman of the European Meeting Industry Liaison Group (EMILG).

    "We support the reported view of the Irish presidency that Philoxenia is a real step in the direction of a clearly defined and fully implemented European Tourism policy," said Mr. Lepine.

    "It was the result of a widely discussed Green Paper that aimed to provide support to tourism, the Community's neglected child".

    The cost is relatively minor - ECU 25 million over four years - for what is Europe's largest industry, with a great potential for job creation and GDP.

    "We hope Philoxenia can be rescued from the neglect that threatens it, the victim of certain members who feel that tourism should remain a non-activity, while Europe continues to lose congress and other tourism business year by year to other destinations," Mr. Lepine said.

    There was also disappointment that no progress has been made in the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on the widely-supported proposal for tourism to become an EU 'competence', which would enable it to win badly needed support. After the Europarliament voted in favor of making tourism a competence, it was hoped that this could have been achieved during the Irish EU presidency, but there were few signs of progress.

    "There is wide concern that matters which may have considerable support can be set aside by the opposition of just one member-state," Mr. Lepine said, adding: "We support the view that a majority vote should prevail: this could open up the opportunity for tourism and conference tourism promotion to get the understanding and support from the Community that they deserve."

    [17] Mortgage Bank announces measures for flood-stricken

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    The National Mortgage Bank yesterday announced three measures to relieve flooding victims in Xanthi prefecture.

    Legal actions concerning compulsory settlement of outstanding debts of flood victims in Xanthi will be suspended until Dec. 1, 1997.

    On the question of interest rates, a conventional interest rate will be applied, and not one applied in cases of overdue debts, for possible outstanding debts of both forthcoming installments, which will be estimated after Dec. 1, 1996 and will possibly not be paid.

    Moreover, flood victims in the prefecture will be provided with the possibility of settling possible outstanding debts of their loans with a 10 per cent down payment of the outstanding debt.

    The measures apply to housing loans and working space loans.

    [18] Greek products exhibit in Cyprus

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    The fourth Greek products exhibition in Cyprus organized by Helexpo and the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair will be held in Nicosia on Jan. 15-19.

    The exhibition will take place with participation from the Thessaloniki Bio-technical Chamber, the Thessaloniki Vocational Training Chamber, the Komotini Commerce and Industrial Chamber, the Larisa Commerce and Industrial Chamber and the Pieria Industrial Chamber.

    It will also be held with the participation of a number of independent businesses.

    Exhibits include furniture, building and construction materials, marbles, garments, foodstuffs, etc.

    [19] Protection measures for EYDAP consumers announced

    Athens, 21/12/1996 (ANA)

    Measures protecting consumers of the Athens Water and Sewerage Co. (EYDAP) were announced yesterday after a meeting at the environment, town planning and public works ministry.

    Public Works Under-secretary Christos Verelis said special two-member work groups will be created in every branch of EYDAP to serve consumers in immediately resolving problems.

    Additionally, bills will not be issued in the event the computerized system ascertains that they are 50 per cent higher than in the corresponding quarterly period of the previous year and are more than 50,000 drachmas.

    A consumer will be notified immediately in such cases in order to ascertain the cause of the problem. A local administration representative will also participate in the committee checking consumers' objections and deciding on discounts for bills.

    Mr. Verelis said the three measures will be implemented by the end of January and will substantively improve the relationship between consumers and EYDAP.

    End of English language section.


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