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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-11-01

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greek, German diplomats to forge joint proposals on Turkey's EU bid, Balkan policy
  • [02] Simitis announces measures to boost farmers' earnings
  • [03] ND leader accuses government of lacking transparency
  • [04] Mild tremor recorded in Parnitha area
  • [05] Greece insists on return of Parthenon Marbles
  • [06] Tsohatzopoulos attends funeral of Armenia's premier
  • [07] Constantopoulos calls for direct consultations between Greece and Turkey
  • [08] New map of Thessaloniki for the blind
  • [09] Tsohatzopoulos says re-election of President Stephanopoulos would benefit Greece
  • [10] Varvitsiotis proposes conditional consensus for March presidential elections
  • [11] Six Iraqis killed when straying into minefield
  • [12] Rallies to be held around the country in protest of Clinton's visit
  • [13] Bomb explodes outside office of Athens computer company

  • [01] Greek, German diplomats to forge joint proposals on Turkey's EU bid, Balkan policy

    BERLIN, 01/11/1999 (ANA-P.Stangos)

    Visiting Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his German counterpart Joschka Fischer on Saturday agreed that diplomats of the two countries would forge joint proposals on Turkey's bid to join the European Union, and on the EU's Balkan policy.

    The proposals are to be drawn up by the diplomats ahead of an EU summit to be held in Helsinki in December, marking the end of Finland's rotating presidency of the 15-nation bloc.

    The diplomats are to cover the framework that would be set for Turkey's EU candidacy, and the conditions for entry talks to begin.

    Speaking to reporters at the end of two-day talks, Mr. Papandreou said that the decision to draw up proposals showed that Greece and Germany had the political will to work concretely together for a joint approach that would facilitate a mutually accepta ble outcome at Helsinki.

    Greek diplomats are expected to visit Berlin in the near future - possibly even next week - to work out a common plan on EU Balkan policy for presentation at the summit. On Turkey, a proposal would be drawn up containing assurances over Cyprus' course towards Europe as well as the principles and control mechanisms for progress that Ankara has to make.

    Asked by the Athens News Agency to name Germany's position if the protracted Cyprus problem could not be resolved, and the Cyprus government was not to blame, Mr. Fischer replied:

    "Then the European Union must, in the foreseeable future, reconsider what has to be done. Cyprus' desire to become a member of the Union is legal and legitimate. We would wish, though, that a solution could be found for the whole of Cyprus, on the basis of consensus of the two sides and of the neighbouring countries (Greece and Turkey). Finding such a solution would also benefit the international community."

    Answering a question on measures to accompany Turkey's candidacy, Mr. Fischer said:

    "The recognition of Turkey as a candidate country also entails the recognition that Turkey does not meet the Copenhagen criteria, which are also the conditions for the start of entry talks between Turkey and the Union, and it simultaneously entails the acceptance of discussion of a route map."

    The German minister added that proposals put forward by the EU's executive Commission as a pre-entry strategy for Turkey were "good, because they contain all the elements that refer to a de-escalation of tension and the need for internal reform, especia lly in human rights and the protection of minorities."

    Mr. Papandreou departed yesterday for Canada.

    Interview with 'Die Welt' : The Copenhagen criteria for EU accession are not enough for Balkan countries, Mr. Papandreou told 'Die Welt' newspaper in an interview .

    "The Copenhagen criteria were adopted for the incorporation of central European countries. But because problems in the Balkans are far more difficult, other criteria should prevail. This does not concern only democratic reforms and human rights but inter-state relations, rules of peaceful coexistence, respect of borders and international law and of resolutions by the United Nations and the Hague International Court," Mr. Papandreou told the paper on Saturday.

    "The problem is not whether Turkey should become an EU member, but when and how," he said, adding that during the Helsinki summit the European Union should define a clearcut framework of condi-tions, "otherwise the opportunity will be lost and, what is most important, we would create false expectations to Turkey..."

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Simitis announces measures to boost farmers' earnings

    Athens, 01/11/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday announced new measures to tone up the agricultural sector, focusing on aid for young farmers.

    Speaking during a one-day tour of Arcadia, Mr. Simitis said the government wanted to improve the quality of life for farmers, boost their income and bring cultivation methods up to date.

    From January 1, early retirement incentives for farmers would rise by 25 percent to encourage the older generation to make way for youth, and loan rates for young farmers fall to 7.5 percent from 12.0 percent in the rest of the agricultural sector.

    Furthermore, farmers' pensions would rise by 10 percent with the minimum monthly payment at 43,000 drachmas, Mr. Simitis said.

    In a new departure, the government for the first time would pay interest on allowances or compensation payments to farmers that were delayed by state services.

    In addition, the government would order the immediate disbursement of a down payment for compensation in natural disasters with the balance to follow as soon as possible, the prime minister said.

    Finally, interest on loans for cultivation would drop from 12.0 percent to a single digit at the beginning of the new year.

    The prime minister also said that the performance of agricultural cooperatives and unions was below par.

    "We intend to reduce the roughly 7,000 cooperatives in existence to 1,000," he said.

    The overhaul would take the form of a merger scheme similar in conception to a streamlining of local government already carried out by the government that aimed to eliminate overlap and duplication.

    At the same time, Mr. Simitis welcomed the creation of integrated sector groups focusing on a single product, such as olive oil or tobacco. Accompanying the premier on his trip were Agriculture Minister George Anomeritis, Public Works, Town Planning and Environment Minister Costas Laliotis, Labour and Social Insurance Minister Miltiades Papaioannou, Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos, Press and Media Minister Dimitris Reppas, and Minister Of State Costas Geitonas.

    Course to EMU depends on political stability : Greek citizens will decide who will lead Greece to the European Monetary Union and to strength at the dawn of the 21st century, Mr. Simitis told an audience in Megalopoli, Saturday evening. He accussed main opposition New Democracy (ND) of petty political expediencies. He said that ND cultivated a civil-war like climate and one of "misery by predictions of a dark future for Greece", stressing, however, that "we are not in the middle of a civil war for such a climate to be cultivated.

    "No Greek feels that the other is an enemy ... this attitude of enmity between us should stop," he added.

    Mr. Simitis accussed ND that over the past few days there are attempts to move the political discussion from the main issues at hand to secondary ones and from politics to scandal-mongering.

    "In this effort we have on our side the majority of the Greek people, who are selfconfident and believe in Greece and themselves," Mr. Simitis said.

    Speaking on the presidential elections, the premier said that the course to the EMU depends on political stability, adding that the present Parliament can elect a president, but clarified that PASOK is not fearful of elections.

    Mr. Simitis accused ND of undermining the course of the country's economy and its entry to the EMU.

    He said the government was informed by European Union officials that ND cadres were reporting in discussions that the Greek government supposedly "fixed" the numbers of the statistics on the economy and that the course of the Greek economy is not reflec ted by the data supplied by the government to the EU.

    "It is an outright lie, it is a pity and a shame," Mr. Simitis said.

    He also accused ND for scandal-mongering "through which it attempts to upset the trust of the people, stability and the work of the government", adding that ND should pay more attention to the interest of the people, but unfortunately it does not do so.

    Evert : In response to the prime minister's accusation that ND cadres were underming the country's course towards EMU entry by giving the EU false data on the Greek economy, former ND leader Miltiades Evert said that if Mr. Simitis has such information, "he sho uld make it public by naming the cadres who sought to defame the country internationally."

    "If the prime minister does not name these ND cadres, then he will will give every right to anyone to describe him as a slanderer," Mr. Evert added.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] ND leader accuses government of lacking transparency

    Athens, 01/11/1999 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis addressed what he called lack of transparency and corruption in public life, during a tour of the eastern Aegean islands of Hios and Inouses over the weekend.

    Speaking to citizens on the island of Hios, Mr. Karamanlis accused the government of being at the service of the few and powerful and not the citizens, adding that there were "sinful" contracts not only in games of chance or gambling, but in public work s contract awards as well.

    He said that young people have no respect for the political life of the country, because, according to him, they see a "dirty and fixed game".

    Mr. Karamanlis noted that he will continue his attacks against the government on issues of corruption, while he said that he called a special meeting of ND cadres for today to examine contracts of public works awarded to companies.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Mild tremor recorded in Parnitha area

    Athens, 01/11/1999 (ANA)

    A tremor measuring 3.7 on the Richter scale was recorded in Parnitha on Saturday, located in the same area as the epicentre of a major earthquake that hit Athens on September 7.

    The Geodynamic Institute of the Athens National Observatory and Thessaloniki University's Geophysics Laboratory both said the tremor, a mild aftershock of the main quake, occurred at 4.54 in the morning.

    No damage or injuries were reported.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Greece insists on return of Parthenon Marbles

    LONDON, 01/11/1999 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Greece does not support the return of all antiquities to the countries of origin, Greek Embassy Press Attache Nikos Papadakis said yesterday, during an interview to LBC radio station here.

    "Greece does not support the emptying of the British Museum of all the treasures it has now. (Greece) requests the return of the Marbles of Parthenon, because we consider them an integral part of the Parthenon Temple. It is not an issue of statues compr ising a single (artistic creation). The totality of the monument demands their return," he said.

    Regarding the condition of the marbles, he said "I am afraid that the issue is not whether damage was done to the marbles, but, as far as we know, there was indeed damage done. The only discussion underway is conducted to estimate the extent of the damage."

    In a related development, Greek experts spent a second day on Friday examining the Parthenon Marbles.

    The six experts, including the senior archaeologist from the Greek ministry of culture, examined the stones on Thursday, comparing them to archival photographs. On Friday, the delegation concentrated on the British Museum's records on its cuctody of the carvings.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Tsohatzopoulos attends funeral of Armenia's premier

    Athens, 01/11/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos flew to Armenia yesterday to represent Greece at the funeral of the country's premier, Vazgen Sarksyan, and seven other officials who were killed by gunmen in parliament last week.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos was due to return to Athens later the same day.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Constantopoulos calls for direct consultations between Greece and Turkey

    Athens, 01/11/1999 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left and Progress party (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, in an interview with the newspaper "Sunday Ethnos", voiced support for direct consultations between Greece and Turkey based on international law.

    Mr. Constantopoulos, who early last week visited Turkey and had meetings, among others, with President Suleyman Demirel, expressed the conviction that different prospects can open in Greek-Turkish relations.

    "It is in the interests of both countries, for peace in the region and for Balkan stability," he said. "We can consult without arbitrators on the basis of international law, mutual respect of borders, integrity and sovereignty of each country and to cr eate a common framework of military approachment," he added.

    On the Cyprus issue, Mr. Constantopoulos said that the accession to the EU of all of Cyprus would be a step which would decisively facilitate a settlement of the problem. If Turkey's course towards the EU follows the same criteria which are valid for a ny other candidate country, this would benefit both Greece and Cyprus, he said.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] New map of Thessaloniki for the blind

    Athens, 01/11/1999 (ANA)

    A new map of the city of Thessaloniki is expected to make life easier for the city's blind people as it was created to be read by touch and was presented yesterday to Macedonia-Trace Minister Yiannis Magriotis.

    The map was presented to Mr. Magriotis during the inauguration of the National Map Centre offices in the city and copies will be disbursed by the ministry to the blind.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Tsohatzopoulos says re-election of President Stephanopoulos would benefit Greece

    Athens, 01/11/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos called "very realistic" the proposal of former main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Miltiades Evert for the re-election of President Kostis Stephanopoulos on condition that general elections are held in June.

    In an interview to an Athens Sunday newspaper, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that the re-election of Kostis Stephanopoulos to the presidency in March would benefit Greece, as well as all political parties.

    He added that PASOK supports the re-election of Mr. Stephanopoulos to the presidency, in line with the popular will.

    Regarding foreign affairs, the defence minister said that Greece does not accept special treatment for Turkey regarding its course to the European Union, thus clarifying the stance of the Greek delegation in the Helsinki summit.

    "Greece, by assuming a positive stance toward Turkey in Helsinki, is requesting for the application of all commitments and terms of operation of the European Union. The way for Turkey (to the EU) will open on the same terms and will have the same exact treatment as all other states. We do not accept special treatment," he said.

    "In no case can the acceptance of Turkey's candidacy move on, without the securing of the unhindered conclusion of the negotiations of the Cyprus Republic with the European Union, independent of a political solution to the Cyprus issue. No one can make Cyprus a hostage of Turkey," he added.

    Speaking on recent statements by ND cadres on the economy, he warned of the dangers that may stem from scandal-mongering for ND itself and reiterated that development could be achieved by success in both the social convergence and justice sectors.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Varvitsiotis proposes conditional consensus for March presidential elections

    Athens, 01/11/1999 (ANA)

    Former Main opposition New Democracy (ND) defence minister Ioannis Varvitsiotis yesterday proposed a conditional consensus for the presidential elections in March, in order to avert early elections.

    In an interview to the newspaper "Eleftherotypia's" Sunday edition, Mr. Varvitsiotis said that such a political agreement should include the establishment of transparency rules in public works contracts and party pre- election expenditures, as well as the establishment of an operational framework for television stations.

    "The mechanisms necessary for the correct functioning of democracy do not exist and those which were in existence have been neutralised by the government.

    "I would expect, by the 'moder-niser' (Prime Minister Costas) Simitis, to propose just that to parties and not whether Kostis Stephanopoulos will or someone else will be the President," Mr. Varvitsiotis said.

    He added that "if I were the president of ND, I would not accept the invitation by Mr. Simitis only regarding the person of the President of the Republic.

    "A government, that has not established a political framework of democracy's functioning, can not be justified in requesting an agreement for the (election of the) President of the Republic," he said.

    Finally, Mr. Varvitsiotis called the focusing on the person to be elected president "disorienting".

    Athens News Agency

    [11] Six Iraqis killed when straying into minefield

    Athens, 01/11/1999 (ANA)

    Six Iraqis were killed and 15 injured yesterday when they strayed into a minefield in northeastern Greece after illegally crossing the border from Turkey, police said.

    The accident at the minefield near the Kipi border post in Evros took place in the early hours of the morning.

    Four of the who are being treated at Alexandroupolis General Regional , were to be in critical condition.

    Military personnel removed the wounded and 15 other Iraqis, who were unhurt, from the site of the blast. No names have been released.

    Survivors claimed they had paid two Iraqi immigrant traffickers a fee of $3, 600 to ferry them across the Evros river, police said.

    One of the traffickers had pointed to the barbed wire fence surrounding the minefield as the group's entry point into Greece, the survivors said.

    The triple fencing around the signposted minefield is 1.5 metres high.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Rallies to be held around the country in protest of Clinton's visit

    Athens, 01/11/1999 (ANA)

    Demonstrations are expected to take place around the country in the middle of the month to protest against a visit to Greece by US President Bill Clinton.

    In Athens, trade unionists and peace activists are to rally in Syntagma Square and then march to the American Embassy in a demonstration timed to coincide with Mr. Clinton's arrival on November 13.

    At the same time, students and other groups will gather outside the central Athens university building, joining the first group of marchers on the way to the embassy.

    The Coalition of the Left's youth movement has proposed another march to the embassy on November 14 for the youth groups of political parties.

    Mr. Clinton leaves Greece on November 15.

    Protests are also being planned in other parts of Greece, organised by local authorities, trade unions and political groups.

    However, students and activists rejected a proposal to reschedule an annual march commemorating a student uprising against the 1967-1974 dictatorship to November 14 from November 17 in order to fall within Mr. Clinton's stay. The march will retain its traditional date.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Bomb explodes outside office of Athens computer company

    Athens, 01/11/1999 (ANA)

    Dynamite and a slow-burning fuse left in a flowerpot outside the office of an Athens computer company exploded yesterday, causing slight damage to nearby premises. No-one was injured.

    No group claimed responsibility for the early morning blast, which left a small crater in the ground.

    The explosive material was left outside the main entrance of an apartment block housing the ground floor office of Ideal Mediterranean Advance System SA in the southern suburb of Kallithea.

    The company's premises were slightly damaged and windows broken in an apartment block opposite.

    Police said the firm, which also deals in photocopying machines and telephone systems, had recently joined the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Athens News Agency

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