|Monday, 18 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 98-03-30
From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <firstname.lastname@example.org>
 Cyprus starts membership talks with EU today
NICOSIA 30/03/1998 (ANA/CNA)For the past eight years the Cyprus Republic's bid to join the European Union has been in the forefront of the island's political life.
At times hopes that an unhindered accession process would go ahead were high, but there were days when they were dampened, mainly because of the island's political problem and Turkish Cypriot reactions.
Today, Cyprus' accession process is becoming a reality and negotiations will be formally launched today in Brussels.
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides is in Brussels for this occasion, which is important not only for Cyprus but also for five central and eastern European countries, whose applications for membership have been accepted.
The EU will start intergovernmental conferences with Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia tomorrow.
The foreign ministers of five other applicant countries, namely Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, will also be present at the launching of the accession process.
The EU has decided that the opening of talks with these five central and eastern European countries will be open to annual review and only when they bring their economy in line will a decision for accession talks be taken.
The accession process will be launched today with an address by the EU Presidency, followed by the Commission, in the presence of the ministers of all eleven applicant countries.
 ... KasoulidesIn statements Saturday at Larnaca airport before leaving for Brussels, Mr. Kasoulides described the opening of the accession negotiations as an "historic moment" for Cyprus, as it will most likely lead to the island's accession to the EU.
He added that the growing trend towards groupings of nations, the island's need to be part of the European family, and its political problem "should make Cyprus happy today, as a new impetus is being developed after 24 years", since the Turkish invasion .
Mr. Kasoulides said that the Cyprus government was aware of Turkish intentions and threats to integrate the occupied northern part of the island to Turkey, and it has already prepared a set of reactions.
Mr. Kasoulides pointed out the government does not wait to see the Turkish side's moves in order to form its reaction plan.
The government examines in advance various scenarios and it decides on possible measures, "taking into account the seriousness of Turkish moves, and both the prospects and timing of our reactions", he noted.
The Turks have reacted strongly to the EU plans to start membership talks with Cyprus. Turkish leaders have threatened to integrate the occupied part of Cyprus to Turkey, in retaliation to EU plans.
Invited to comment on a planned visit of his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem to the occupied areas today, Mr. Kasoulides described it as illegal.
At the same time, he expressed the hope that "at least this time, Mr. Cem would realise that it is to the interest of Turkey to persuade (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash to change his intransigent policy."
It was reported in Turkey that Mr. Cem will visit the occupied areas today to prepare the ground for a meeting in Turkey the following day of the so-called association council set up between Turkey and the Denktash breakaway regime. The Council is expected to take a series of measures, in retaliation to the start of the EU-Cyprus accession negotiations the same day in Brussels.
 ... Other officialsCyprus chief EU negotiator George Vassiliou has said that "hard work is needed" to harmonise the Republic's economy, laws and social norms with the EU.
The former president, who submitted Cyprus' application for entry into the EU in July 1990, said "Europe is not just a motto but a difficult reality and hard work is needed to overcome them."
He believes that Cyprus, with a market-oriented economy, will not face serious problems in its accession process, but has its political problem to overcome.
Cyprus government spokesman Christos Stylianides described the beginning of accession talks as "an historic event opening a new era in the island's political and social life."
He pointed out that the road ahead is difficult, but expressed certainty that with the cooperation of all political parties and the Greek government the final goal will be achieved.
Mr. Stylianides stressed that "the Cyprus government wants the Turkish Cypriot community to be involved in this historic challenge."
 Greek and Albanian defence ministers meet in Ioannina
Athens 30/03/1998 (ANA)"Greece has never been, nor will ever become, a country of racist attitudes and racist phenomena," National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said in the northern Greek town of Ioannina yesterday, after talks with visiting Albanian counterpart Sabit Brokaj.
The Albanian defence minister told reporters that "some isolated incidents do not threaten the friendly relations" between the two neighbouring countries.
The ministers' talks focussed on a Greek proposal for the establishment of a multinational peacekeeping force in the Balkans.
The proposal had been discussed in Sophia in October at a meeting of Balkan defence undersecretaries.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos agreed to an Albanian proposal that the Balkan undersecretaries meet again in Tirana on May 21.
The two ministers also discussed recent developments in Yugoslavia's strife-torn Kosovo region.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that the Greek government firmly opposed armed violence in the region, while at the same time it endorsed respect of human rights, which he said could be achieved only through dialogue among the sides involved.
Mr. Brokaj referred to the meeting of Southeast European leaders hosted on the Greek island of Crete last November, which he described as a "historic" event which, however, "Europe did not take appropriate advantage of in order to avert the bloody events in Kosovo".
He said the Crete meeting "should have been followed up by other meetings among Tirana, Kosovo and Belgrade, but it was not".
 Simitis to chair KYSEA meeting today
Athens 30/03/1998 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis will preside today at the meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA), in efforts to decide the future arms aquisition programme.
The council is expected to decide on anti-aircraft arms for the protection of the country and specifically for the islands as well as the new type of warplane to be purchased by the government.
Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos noted that the issues of civil defence and the creation of a national arms purchase fund will also be discussed.
 Turkish military attache's car torched
Athens 30/03/1998 (ANA)A car belonging to the Turkish embassy's military attache was set alight shortly after midnight Saturday, authorities said.
The car, parked at the corner of Tritonos and Parthenonos streets in the residential area of Paleo Faliro, was set alight by unidentified persons at about 1:00 a.m. yesterday morning.
The fire caused at least a million drachmas worth of damage to the vehicle, as well as to a car parked nearby.
The fire department is looking into the exact circumstances of the fire.
Police said later a group calling itself "Arsonists of Conscience" clai-med responsibility for the tor-ching. Eyewitnesses said the arsonists were two relatively young men, who had their faces covered by scarves and left the scene on foot.
 Turkish reaction
ANKARA 30/03/1998 (ANA - A.Abatzis)The Turkish Foreign Ministry yesterday condemned in a statement the arson and asked for "drastic measures" by Greek authorities to protect Turkish delegations in Greece as well as to prevent "similar future incidents".
 Papoulias heads parliamentary delegation to Tirana
TIRANA 30/03/1998 (ANA)A delegation of the Greek Parliament Foreign and Defence Affairs Committee, led by former foreign minister Carolos Papoulias, arrived here yesterday at the invitation of the corresponding Albanian committee.
The delegation will be informed on the current political situation in the country as well as the course of Greek-Albanian relations.
The delegation met with Archbishop of Tirana and all of Albania Anastasios while today they are to meet with Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani, Prime Minister Fatos Nano and former Albanian president and Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha among others .
The delegates will visit the Greek military force in Albania, and also hold talks with their Albanian counterparts and representatives of the Greek minority.
The visit is within the framework of contacts between the parliaments of the two countries. The visit will coincide with the tabling of a bill in the Albanian parliament for a six-month extension of the Greek military forces' stay in the neighbouring co untry aimed at contributing in efforts to restructure the Albanian military.
 Balkan youth confer in Athens
Athens 30/03/1998 (ANA)Balkan countries' non-governmental youth organisations met in Athens yesterday in efforts to coordinate policies for the youth in these countries, while the first related ministerial conference on the issue is set to begin today.
Delegates from Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Romania, and Greece met and discussed issues ranging form education and minority rights to equal opportunities and human rights in the region.
Turkish non-governmental organisations were invited as well, but did not attend.
 Russian envoy inaugurates natural gas pipeline in Kavala
Athens 30/03/1998 (ANA)Russia's ambassador to Greece yesterday inaugurated a 166-km central pipeline in Kavala which will carry natural gas from Russia to Greece.
"The natural gas which has reached Kavala will soon reach as far as Thrace," Valentina Matvienko said during the ceremony.
The pipeline runs from the Karperi region in Serres to the village of Halkero in Kavala.
"This project is another indication of the good cooperation between Greece and Russia," Ms. Matvienko said. "It is an example of good cooperation which Greek and Russian construction companies will have as well as the excellent level of friendship and cooperation between the peoples of Greece and Russia."
Representatives of construction companies present at the ceremony said that as of April 16 Russian natural gas would be available for industrial use with domestic use becoming available shortly afterwards.
Ambassador Matvienko said Russia was "very interested" in seeing the completion of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, in which Bulgaria, Russia and Greece were involved and which had "not only economic but political significance".
"This project will contribute to the further development of Greece as well as many other regions in Europe," Ms. Matvienko said, adding that Moscow's interest in the completion of the project was more significant in the light of the Turkish unilateral decision to restrict access through the Straits.
The natural gas to be imported to Greece from Russia is expected to cover approximately 15 per cent of the country's energy needs.
To be built at an estimated cost of 600 billion drachmas and financed 40 per cent by the European Union, the natural gas conveyance network will extend for over 1,000 kilometres.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis earlier this year called the project "the greatest energy project to be carried out in Greece since the country's electrification".
 Labour minister says special privilages will be abolished
Athens 30/03/1998 (ANA)Labour and Social Security Minister Miltiades Papaioannou yesterday said that the labour relations will change but the workers' rights will be safeguarded, while special privilages will be abolished.
In his speach at an Athens suburban municipality the minister also said that the convergence of the Greek economy to the European Union's is a must and it relates to the changes of the labour relations and the social insurance system.
"We must totally change today's state, so we can follow the developments, said the minister, adding that the government's goal is a stable economy and its development through public and private investment.
Mr. Papaioannou mentioned the "youth in active life" programme, which will give training and employment opportunities to 200,000 youths in three years and will cost 350 billion drachmas.
The minister also said that 15,000 unemployed will be subsidised while the aged unemployed will be given special attention.
Speaking on the new labour bill dealing with work-hours and scheduling due to be tabled in Parliament in May, Mr. Papaioannou said that the "eight-hour- work day is not abolished, but remains as the base of work-time calculation.
As for Olympic Airways (OA) the minister said that "we want an Olympic of 2002 same and better than the foreign airline companies, which will be able to face competition."
 Greek Americans celebrate Independence Day
NEW YORK 30/03/1998 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)Greek Americans yesterday held a parade on Wall Street in celebration of the 177th anniversary of the March 25 Greek Independance Day.
New York City Mayor Rudolf Guilianni, Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America Spyridon members of the Greek Parliament, Greek Americans and Americans observed the parade, while a Greek presidential guard unit of Evzones participated.
Mr. Guilianni, in his address, noted the close bonds of the United States and Greece as well as the impact of Greek culture and Greek Americans in forming American culture.
Archbishop Spyridon noted the struggles of Greeks for their freedom are marked by this celebration.
In a related event at the Greek Consulate in Chicago, Council of Hellenes Abroad President Andrew Athens presented Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos with a medallion of honour.
In New York on Saturday night, the Federation of Greek Associations of Greater New York bestowed on Mr. Pangalos its "Greek Independence" award, which was introduced for the first time this year.
The award was presented to Mr. Pangalos for his "invaluable contribution to the Greek state and to democracy".
 Venizelos to attend UNESCO conference in Stockholm
STOCKHOLM 30/03/1998 (ANA - N. Servetas)The UNESCO "The Force of Culture" conference begins today to investigate the role of civilization in politics and its goal is to aid social development.
UNESCO's 186 member countries are represented by 2,500 delegates, while among them are 75 culture ministers - a record number for a conference of this kind.
Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos will participate at the official part of the conference while four other Greek officials, among which Greece's ambassador to UNESCO Vassilis Vassilikos, will participate at parallel conferences.
Cyprus Education and Culture Ministry general secretary Andreas Fylaktou will represent Cyprus at the conference.
 OA management and employees conduct tough talks
Athens 30/03/1998 (ANA)Talks between the Federation of Civil Aviation Associations (OSPA) and Olympic Airways' (OA) management resumed yesterday evening after an impasse earlier in the day.
OSPA president Michalis Perros said before the resumption of the talks that the dialogue with OA's management was heading towards failure, since nothing that was agreed upon was noted in yesterday's management circular.
Mr. Perros added that "the government is resolved to go ahead with legislation of the new framework for the labour relations in Olympic Airways."
Mr. Perros noted that "with these facts there can be no agreement. The dialogue is proven to be a fiasco."
A report last night said that the talks had been suspended during the day because of a misunderstanding and mistakes.
The talks between the management and the employees was due to end late last night. It should be noted that 350 employees had applied for retirement by last Saturday, while another 150 applications are expected.
 Primary school teachers to strike on Friday
Athens 30/03/1998 (ANA)Primary school teachers will hold a nationwide 24-hour strike on April 3 to protest recent education ministry decisions to abolish a decades-long waiting list for appointment to public schools and replace it with a competition, and other reforms.
The teachers will hold protest rallies in Athens and Thessaloniki on the day of the strike and will meet again later in April to discuss further protest action, particularly in May, when the competition is scheduled to be held.
 Damanaki announces candidacy for Athens mayorship
Athens 30/03/1998 (ANA)Maria Damanaki yesterday officially announced her candidacy for the Athens mayorship in front of local government personalities, political party officials and government ministers.
Ms. Damanaki, a Coalition of the Left and Progress party (Synaspismos) deputy and former president of the same party, is supported in her bid by ruling PASOK party and Synaspismos.
Ms. Damanaki pledged to "be present" for the citizens' needs with knowledge of the city's problems.
She also promised that during her term in office if elected she will work for Athens to become "a city of optimistic and happy people".
 Eminent writer Traiforos dies
Athens 30/03/1998 (ANA)Eminent writer, stage director, lyric-writer and poet Mimis Traiforos died early Saturday at the age of 86 after a long illness.
In 1940, Traiforos wrote the lyrics for the stirring "Children, children of Greece" which became a symbol of the Greeks' national struggle against fascist Italy's attempt to invade the country from Albania.
The song was immortalised by popular singer Sophia Vembo, herself a symbol of Greek resistance.
In the period 1941-42, Traiforos and Vembo entertained the remnants of the Greek army in exile in Egypt.
Traiforos, who one week ago was admitted to the Evangelismos Hospital in Athens, wrote over 50 revues and other works, many of which considerably influenced modern Greek theatre.
He also worked with many of Greece's most famous composers, including Manos Hadjidakis.
Traiforos will be buried at the Athens First Cemetery tomorrow.
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos expressing sorrow said in a statement that "an era which always stands as a shining example goes with Traiforos".
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis also expressed his sorrow and praised Traiforos for his life and works.