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Antenna: News in English, 96-12-05

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From: Antenna Radio <> - email:

News in English, of 05/12/1996


  • The nation at a standstill, as farmers and the government disagree over money.
  • Computers breathe life into Greek history.
  • the collected works of one of Greece's best artists.


Fuel prices, prices and debts are the three things separating outraged farmers and the government, and keeping the country at a standstill.

Farmers around the nation want lower tax on fuel, higher prices for their subsidised crops, and easier repayment terms on state bank loans.

A week after cotton farmers in Thessaly set up the first roadblocks on the Athens-Thessaloniki highway around Larisa and Volos, the city of Volos remains completely cut off by road. And by sea, because of a nationwide dockworkers strike.

The government is offering less than what the farmers want, and the agriculture minister went to Larisa to talk to farmers' reps Wednesday.

There was little hope that a compromise would be found. The farmers are sticking to their demands, the government says IT'S offer is fine. Agriculture minister Stephanos Tzoumakas said after a cabinet meeting Wednesday that the farmers should free up the roads first, then dialogue can begin. The farmers say they'll stay put until they get what they want.

On the ground, the farmers look ready for a long haul. Pitched tents, cooking detail - life at the roadblocks has already taken on a routine.

Every day, teachers and school kids go to support protestors outside Volos. One teacher said, "They're right".

On the Athens-Patra road just outside Patra, cut off by the roadblocks for four days, some members of the clergy showed their solidarity the farmers, taking them food.

All around the country, the picture is the same. In Thessaloniki, it's tough to get to the airport. Some travellers pass through the roadblocks on foot, then catch a cab to the airport. Others make it by using secondary roads.

Like Volos, Thessaloniki is also cut off by sea. A strike at the port in its 8th day prevented 300 trucks from unloaking their goods onto a freighter.

In Aigio in the Peloponese, raisin producers kept up their protests - they want higher prices for their produce.

Leaving the country was no solution either: border points and customs houses were shut down by roadblocks near Bulgaria and Turkey.

Larisa, where Tzoumakas arrived Wednesday for talks, is the place where it all started. One farmer there said if the minister didn't have the solutions to their problems in his bag, he should've stayed at home.

There was little optimism Wednesday evening. But people who need to get places, and merchants hoping for a jolly Christmas shopping season, hope the dispute ends soon.


The government came under fire for its economic policies in parliament too.

On day one of the parliamentary budget committee's discussion of the government's 1997 spending and taxation plans, Pasok MP Giannis Zafiropoulos said next year's streamlined budget is crucial to Greece's efforts to get in shape for European Union monetary union.

Zafiropoulos asked that the budget be accepted by all parties in a climate of understanding that what Pasok is doing is for the good of the country.

New Democracy MP Giorgos Alogoskoufis countered that with Pasok's policies, Greece probably won't make it into the final round of monetary union.


Defence minister Gerasimos Arsenis says the Greece- Cyprus Joint Defence Space is of key importance to Hellenism.

The joint defence pact is designed to deter Turkish aggression against Greece and Cyprus.

Arsenis told reporters Wednesday that it is developing into much more than that. "Every effort to undermine it will be repelled", he said, "because it has gone beyond the narrow military framework. It's become a catalyst for the creation of a new national strategy for Hellenism".


People are still reeling from several days of devastating flooding around two cities in northern and central Greece.

Residents of villages around Xanthi and Arta are cleaning up their houses, and repairing the damage caused by muddy water brought by heavy rains.


A very special medical conference begings in Athens on Thursday. A conference that, with the help of Antenna, will bring medical experts closer to people who need their help.

The world's top gastroenterologists will meet in Athens, not only to advise people suffering from illnesses, but to update doctors on what's going on in the profession.

Surgeon Nikos Lygidakis told Antenna this conference is a preview of what should happen more often in the future.

By pooling expertise and experience, he says, gastroenterologists can better confront serious and life-threatening health problems, which are too much for one doctor or even one clinic to handle.

During the conference, people without the money to seek a second medical opinion will have their cases discussed by panels of experts. And doctors will be able to benefit from demonstrations of the latest diagnostic and therapeutic devices.

Lygidakis is working with Antenna to take the "second opinion" worldwide. Via satellite feeds, Antenna will allow people to hear the advice of experts around the world, after they've seen the patient's medical files.


The battleship Averoff, which first sailed into Faliron harbour in 1911, and first saw action in the Balkan War, is a part of Greek history.

Now, thanks to computer technology, it is a part of history more accessible to people who want to learn about history.

The life of the Greek war vessel, with its three topedo shafts, is all here.

Ship's captain Giorgos Kremos said at the programme launch: "This CD-Rom is a great achievement. It brings alive historical moments most people never learn about".

Kremos believes a people should never forget its history, and computer technology can be a great aid in ensuring that doesn't happen.

The programme virtually takes the user on board the Averoff, allowing him to play games with the ship.


Eleven years after the death of Greek artist Nikos Engonopoulos, his sketches and paintings have been collected in a single tome.

"Designs and Colours" contains reproductions of 134 sketches, 27 rough sketches, the so-called Botchetti, and 20 cavasses.

The surrealist who taught at the Polytechnio in Athens was famous for his renderings of scenes from Byzantium, mythology and the Greek revolution.

His widow, Lena EngonOpoulou says, "He was always way ahead of everyone".

His daughter, Errieti, oversaw production of the book. "It's the first book of my father's work", she says. "It's good that even if we can't have his paintings in our homes, we can still look at them, thanks to this publication".

©ANT1-Radio 1996

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