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Antenna: News in English, 96-12-13

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From: Antenna Radio <> - email:

News in English, of 13/12/1996


  • Protesting farmers say they'll block the nation's roads through Christmas***.
  • Stealing the presidentail bike***.
  • And, Greek-Turkish friendship from the world of weight-lifting***.


Prime minister Kostas Simitis went to Netherlands Thursday where he met with his Dutch counterpart Vim Kok in the Hague.

Later in the day he left for Dublin to take part in the EU summit, which will be focused in the Union's monetary unification, its expansion towards eastern European countries, the fight against drugs issue and the future of the european institutions

Meanwhile, Turkey's president Souleiman Demirel sent a letter to the 15 EU members leaders, asking them not to forget his country's request for a complete entry to the Union.

Turkish premier Netsmetin Erbakan refused an invitation for diner, within the framework of the summit, explaining that he prefers not to come in order to send a warning to Europe for its faint (half-hearted) attitude towards Turkey.

The European Union has frozen the issue of Turkey's entry, due to the country's severe economy problems, the situation over the human rights and its differences with Greece.


The farmers' roadblocks continue around the country, around the clock. The farmers are in a two-week stand-off with the government over fuel taxes, crop prices, and debt repayment terms. And that's had inter-city traffic at a standstill.

The government says the farmers are being unreasonable, and the farmers say agriculture is being wiped out; production costs are too high, prices too low.

At a roadblock in northern Greece, one farmer explained in exasperation that he owes 20 thousand dollars to the state-run Agricultural Bank. Like many farmers hit by hardship, he wants the repayment terms made easier.

Another man who lives off the soil said farmers are finding it harder and harder to survive - many young people are abandoning the land and going to Germany in search of a job and a better living.

The government has repeatedly appealed to the farmers to open up the roads; two weeks of roadblocks have cost the nation's economy millions of dollars.

But more tractors arrive every day at roadblocks around Larisa, where cotton producers started the protests two weeks ago.

The farmers have taken pity on some truck-drivers: some roads have been opened up for trucks heading out of the country. But it isn't enough say export firms in northern Greece. They report 30 million US dollars in damages from the roadblocks.

Representatives of ten business groups are pleading with the government and the farmers to find a solution to the problem that's taking a toll on the economy.

Some people support the farmers. The shops in Chrysoupoli, near Kavala, closed and the shopkeepers went to join the roadblocks in a show of solidarity with the farmers.

The agriculture minister met with farmers reps and Agricultural Bank officials to discuss the cotton producers' problems Thursday.

The minister is expected to ask the European Union for additional funds for farmers who have suffered damages from flooding.

But the mood on the ground is determined. Farmers say if they don't get what they want, they'll stay put on the highways until Easter, never mind Christmas.


Athens has not been hurt by the roadblocks so far - there are no shortages as there are in some smaller cities near large roadblocks. But the capital is feeling the discontent of people with money troubles.

Building workers staged a nationwide strike Thursday. They rallied in central Athens, and marched to the labour ministry and parliament.

Construction workers say government economic policies are strangling the building business. They want steps taken to spur investment in their industry.

Shourting, "We want jobs, not unemployment", they arrived at parliament, where their reps presented their demands to the finance minister.


The government has told all protesting groups that it's belt-tightening economic policies are necessary. Pasok is also tightening the noose - around companies and wealthy individuals who have been lax about paying their taxes.

The government has released a list of 300 tax evading companies.

On the list are a lot of well-known names, from the business and sports world. There are also contractors, fashion and houses on it. 53 of the companies on the list are being shut down. The rest are being slapped with heavy fines.

The finance ministry says the evaders are guilty of hundreds of counts of tax-dodging, which include no-nos like issuing false receipts.


It seems that anyone can be a victim of petty theft. Many people have had things taken from their yard, including the Greek president.

Kostis Stephanopoulos is fond of riding his bike, or was...he found himself without wheels when someone lifted his bicycle from the back yard of his country home.

There are no suspects in what looks like a perfect crime. But the police say whoever it was, probably didn't know whose property he was pilfering.

The bike was given to the president by an old friend. Mr Stephanopoulos's son has already ordered his father another bike, just like the one that was stolen.

The president enjoys healthy outdoor activities, and probably wouldn't want to be without wheels for long.


In European championship basketball, Panathinaikos finished the first round of the Euroleague right where anyone would want to be: in first place. Pao finishes on top of its 6-team group, with an 87-79 victory over Germany's Leverkuzen. Pao closes out the round with an 8 and 2 record.


Two world-class weight-lifters, one from Greece and one from Turkey, visited a young fan of theirs in Athens.

Greece's Valerios Leonides and Naim Souleimanoglou of Turkey, lifted the spirits of a 12-year-old recovering from a car accident.


"Animals don't hurt your feelings", says 65-year- old Sophia Nathana- ilidou. There's no arguing with that.

But even if you agree with her, you still may hesitate before putting the truth of the statement into practice to the extent that she has.

Sophia lives in a small apartment in Thessaloniki with 30 cats. It might be a tight squeeze, but she says her furry friends never rub her the wrong way.

The retiree and her friends live off her 500-dollar monthly pension. After rent, they have 300 dollars left over for the essentials of life.

Sophia says she can't understand people who don't like animals or mistreat them.

© ANT1-Radio 1996

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