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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-11-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Tsohatzopoulos: Greece promotes security, defence policy for wider region
  • [02] Simitis reiterates: Support of Turkey's EU prospects if conditions met
  • [03] Gov't flatly dismisses press claim of 'sunken nuke' off Crete
  • [04] PM announces creation of new police organisation nationwide
  • [05] US envoy outlines Washington's views vis-a-vis Turkey's EU prospects
  • [06] Simitis, Karamanlis exchange barbs in weekend tours
  • [07] Protocol agreement between Greek, Italian parliaments
  • [08] Greek team takes first place at weightlifting championships
  • [09] Stricter provisions for construction firms envisioned
  • [10] SAE congress in Thessaloniki to begin Dec. 5
  • [11] ECOFIN to consider 'levelling' of Greece's budget deficit
  • [12] Large shark caught off Evros
  • [13] Gov't to relegate natural disaster relief to municipalities

  • [01] Tsohatzopoulos: Greece promotes security, defence policy for wider region

    Athens, 29/11/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed on Saturday that Greece is promoting a wide-ranging policy of security and defence, while laying the foundations to curb crises in the wider geo-political region.

    "Our country is promoting a wide-ranging policy of security and defenceIto tackle crises in the wider geopolitical region, either in the Balkans or the eastern Mediterranean or the Middle East and, at the same time, Greece's role is highlighted as a force of peace, security, stability and cooperation in the region," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said in Kavala, northern Greece.

    "We are supporting this security policy, a policy which constitutes a target to be achieved in a similar radius by all neighbouring Balkan countries. They have also realised that the common future requires a common course in supporting a regional securi ty policy through which they will secure security and peace," he said.

    "Also, Greece is completing a five-year course of equal accession to Europe's Economic and Monetary Union, with the fact that we will join the 'euro zone' next June, fully satisfying the criteria and terms anticipated for this process. Greece is really becoming an equal member of the European Union. However, the main conclusion is that the Greek economy is highlighting its strength in Europe and internationally as well, and in the Balkans, a fact leading neighbouring countries to request their association with our economy," he added.

    "...therefore, having these two main pylons - first, with regard to security and stability in our policy, and second, our role as a European economic centre in the wider geopolitical region - highlights Greece as a main factor of positive influence both in the direction of economic and social development with neighbouring countries...and as a coefficient in shaping peace in the region through cooperation with neighbours," he added.

    "In order to be successfully implemented, these general policies require clear and specific terms of application, both in the sector of the economy and development and the sector of the armed forces, foreign policy and the government's overall policy for security and defence.

    "...we are contributing towards facilitating a positive prospect...on the one hand strengthening the presence of the armed forces here qualitatively and quantitatively, exactly because we believe in the principle that peace requires a strong defence. In ord er to be safeguarded on the basis of this prospect as well, we are promoting a series of infrastructure works which support, in parallel to its contribution, the region's economic activity and its social needs. And I would not like to pass over in silence the armed forces' vigorous and highly effective social role in conditions of local and regional development for the entire region of eastern Macedonia and Thrace. However, I should stress at the same time our full support in the creation of necessary com munications infrastructures regarding the axes of transport; the networks which, not only along the breadth of Greece, along the breadth of the Egnatia (motorway) link the space covered by Greece but, primarily, with the communications axes to the north which will guarantee the neighbouring countries' common economic activity with us. Because, as it is known, these axes constitute development targets of common economic activity in the new unified Balkan area towards which we are moving.

    "The transport axes are not limited only to roads and to special transports, but they have a prominent position in air transports and shipping. And here we support the speedy completion and upgrading of the port of Kavala because, apart from the great communication significance they have for the country's armed forces and the navy, it has a special significance and, consequently, our interest in its completion and utilisation is a given," he said.

    Concluding, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said "we are strengthening the infrastructure and potential of the airport of Chrysoupolis (outside Kavala) and we are open to the parallel utilisation of military and civil airports, either with existing airports or with abandoned and closed ones."

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos had a series of contacts in Kavala with authorities in the prefecture within the framework of his tour of the region.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Simitis reiterates: Support of Turkey's EU prospects if conditions met

    Athens, 29/11/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday reiterated Greece's desire to see Turkey in the European Union, but in line with the principles accepted and adhered to by all EU member-states.

    "The participation of Turkey in the EU - under certain conditions - assists in building a space of peace and security, of consolidating peace and stability in our region," Mr. Simitis said at a rally in Crete during his weekend tour of the island.

    "This, however, means that we will not bring the existing problems to the EU," he added.

    "The EU is a community of countries based on guidelines, principles of law, and with procedures which must be acceptable to all in order to achieve the goal of a common destiny," he said.

    "A common destiny, yes, but one with such conditions where peace and cooperation can be permanent situations in the Aegean and in Greek-Turkish relations."

    Earlier, the prime minister had underlined the positive climate created recently through the mutual aid and support between the two countries in the wake of the quakes that struck NW Turkey and the greater Athens area.

    "The positive climate is the result of our initiatives to help in the quakes, and to approach issues such as financial cooperation," Mr. Simitis said.

    "Greece has shown the way and I hope that Turkey will take similar initiatives, so that international law can be the framework of reference for the region and for there to be permanent stability and peaceful relationships."

    Papandreou : Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who returned on Friday from a trip to Cyprus where he held talks with the island republic's political leaders on Athens' stance vis-a-vis Turkey's bid for EU candidacy, stressed yesterday that Greece would protect both its own and Cyprus' interests at the upcoming Helsinki summit.

    In an interview published in Sunday's edition of "Eleftherotypia", Mr. Papandreou said if Greece was forced to use its veto at Helsinki on the issue of EU Turkey's candidacy, the responsibility for this would lie with Greece's EU partners.

    The outcome at Helsinki, he added, would have an effect on Greek-Turkish rapprochement presently under way but he said he hoped that talks over the next few days would bring results.

    "I hope that the negotiations over the next few days will find partners ready to contribute to further strengthening of Greek-Turkish rapprochement, by guaranteeing Greek interests," he said.

    Greece has said it supports Turkey's bid to join the EU but that it needs to see specific steps from the neighbouring country which indicate its commitment to conform with European norms.

    It also wants the EU to disassociate the progress of Cyprus' bid to join the EU from the resolution of the political problem on the divided island. Greece has said repeatedly that Cyprus can not be held "hostage" by Turkey, which maintains an occupation force on the island.

    Recently, the EU Finnish presidency called on Greece and Sweden to take a final decision on the issue of Turkey's EU candidacy, indicating that the 13 EU member states had reached a consensus on the issue.

    "We have not given our final consent and nor are we about to until we guarantee our vital interests and confirm that Turkey's European course is to the benefit of the EU, Greece, Cyprus and of course Turkey," Mr. Papandreou said.

    "We have clearly set out our positions to our partners, they know our positions and, in the same way that they expect our response, we too expect their final response."

    Mr. Papandreou began a visit to Stockholm yesterday, part of his round of contacts to brief EU member states on the Greek position ahead of the critical EU Helsinki summit in early December.

    While in Cyprus on Friday, the Greek minister reiterated that Athens will weigh its interests and those of Cyprus in making its final decisions regarding the Helsinki summit.

    Greece is the supporter of Cyprus' Hellenism, Mr. Papandreou said, adding "we willIweigh all of our interests not only of Greece but of Cyprus as well and we will come up with our final decisions.

    "We will continue the joint effort for a just and lasting solution; for a democratic and undivided Cyprus...Cypriot Hellenism knows that we are its supporters and that we will wage together this common struggle," he concluded.

    Karamanlis : On his part, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis called for Ankara to commit to abiding by international law and treaties and to denounce all use of force if it wanted to acquire an EU candidate status.

    "First, Turkey must commit itself to respecting international law and treaties. Second, to denounce every threat of the use of force, and third, the European Union should commit itself over the accession of Cyprus, regardless of a political solution to the problem plaguing the island," he said in the town of Nafplio yesterday.

    Mr. Karamanlis stressed earlier that the decisions to be taken at the Helsinki summit will be very crucial, as the cohesion, consistency and effectiveness of the nation in foreign policy and in safeguarding national issues will be judged there.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Gov't flatly dismisses press claim of 'sunken nuke' off Crete

    Athens, 29/11/1999 (ANA)

    National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos yesterday denied a press report that a US nuclear warhead had accidentally been 'dropped' off the coast of Crete a few years ago, remaining there undetonated for years. "Whoever wrote this article was entrapped. The information is wrong...I can assure you that there has not been such an incident in recent years in Greece," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    The Sunday newspaper "To Vima" claimed yesterday that a nuclear-powered US warship sailing near the Souda anchorage had accidentally ejected a warhead into the sea northwest of Crete.

    The Greek defence minister also denied reports of a Greek-US agreement on dealing with nuclear weapons, saying that a proposal had been made to discuss the issue, but that it was never concluded.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] PM announces creation of new police organisation nationwide

    Athens, 29/11/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis announced on Saturday from Crete the creation of several general police directorates throughout the country.

    The general police directorate of Crete will include a special force dedicated to combatting illegal activities in rural areas, the premier said in the coastal town of Agios Nikolaos.

    "Illegal behaviour will not be tolerated. Any such behaviour will be combatted. Crete will have the same level of security with that of the rest of the country," Mr. Simitis stressed.

    In an unrelated development, 150 protesters handed the premier a memorandum requesting changes to their town's local administration merger into a larger municipality.

    The mergers were mandated by the "Kapodistrias" plan, which led to the merger of approximately 14,000 communities throughout Greece to less than 1, 000 municipalities.

    Mr. Simitis told a delegation of protesters that the law was passed by Parliament and enjoys the acceptance of a majority of Greek society, however, he added that the government has been promoting a solution to any problems that it has created.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] US envoy outlines Washington's views vis-a-vis Turkey's EU prospects

    Athens, 29/11/1999 (ANA)

    Washington hopes Athens will build on the recent good climate in bilateral relations with Turkey and give Ankara a positive response in its bid for European Union candidate status, according to press statements by US ambassador Nicholas Burns.

    Mr. Burns was quoted in an interview published yesterday by the Sunday edition of the Kathimerini newspaper.

    The US envoy said Washington's stance, as expressed "clearly" by US President Bill Clinton during his recent visit, was that Turkey being closer to the EU would aid in a number of ways such, as improving the level of human rights in the neighbouring country and in resolving differences with Greece.

    "I believe that if Turkey becomes a candidate country for the EU it will help and increase the possibilities of resolving the Cyprus issues and of peacefully and constructively dealing with Greek-Turkish problems," Mr. Burns said.

    "This is why we believe that this development facilitates Greece's long- term interests. Our position is that Turkish should become a candidate, while we have always supported the accession of Cyprus which is already a candidate. We support both".

    He said it was up to the European Union on how it would deal with the issue of Cypriot accession in the eventuality of a non-resolution of the political issue.

    Mr. Burns added that it was standing US policy, and clearly expressed recently by Mr. Clinton, that Greece and Turkey had to refer to the International Court of Justice at The Hague any differences they were unable to resolve through bilateral means.

    Athens News Agency

    [06] Simitis, Karamanlis exchange barbs in weekend tours

    Athens, 29/11/1999 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis criticised yesterday what he described as the "far-right inclination" of his main rival, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis.

    "We say no to divisions, no to discriminations, no to choices," he said.

    Speaking yesterday in the town of Sitia, Crete, Mr. Simitis again criticised Mr. Karamanlis' phrase concerning "clean" Greeks which, as he said, constitutes "a return to the conservative party's far-right past."

    Touring the Corinth prefecture on Saturday, Mr. Karamanlis made a strong personal attack on Mr. Simitis, focusing on issues of transparency as well as the elections.

    Mr. Karamanlis accused Mr. Simitis of embarking on a delirium of accusations aimed at him.

    "With this attack of his, Mr. Simitis proves that he is living in another era, the era of divisions, and this proves that he is a politician of yesterday, of the past," Mr. Karamanlis said.

    "We appeal to all...These divisions only serve and suit the people of PASOK, the party nomenclature," he charged.

    Mr. Karamanlis said the country has been injured by these dividing lines, by civil confrontations and dissensions, adding that the time has come for all citizens to unite.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Protocol agreement between Greek, Italian parliaments

    ROME (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kakalamanis and his Italian counterpart Luciano Volante signed a protocol yesterday on widening prospects of promoting bilateral Parliamentary cooperation.

    Issues such as Parliamentary diplomacy, combatting organised crime, the holding of joint cultural events and the exchange of visits at all levels, among others, are the focus of the cooperation.

    "Despite remarks by US President Mr. Clinton to the Turkish leadership that it should make certain actions of rapprochement towards the Greek step has been taken in this direction so far," Mr. Kaklamanis said.

    He was replying to a question by Mr. Volante regarding developments in Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue in the wake of Mr. Clinton's visit to the two countries.

    "The recent bitter experience of the earthquakes which struck Greece and Turkey gave the opportunity to the two peoples to confirm the feelings of friendship they feel for each other. Unfortunately, however, the same did not occur between the two govern ments," Mr. Kaklamanis added.

    On the question of Cyprus, Mr. Kaklamanis said there are no indications that something substantive will result from the impending meeting between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Meanwhile, it was agreed that an art-related event will take place on the Aegean island of Symi in the summer under the aegis of the two Parliaments, as well as a meeting on educational issues between the universities of Athens and Rome in the Greek cap ital in February.

    Mr. Kaklamanis also had a private meeting with his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Natek Nuri, focusing on an exchange of views on issues of bilateral and wider interest concerning the region.

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Greek team takes first place at weightlifting championships

    Athens, 29/11/1999 (ANA)

    The Greek men's weightlifting team more than pleased its hometown fans over the weekend at the world championships, held at an Athens seaside indoor stadium, by taking first place in the overall point standings.

    Greek athletes won four gold, 10 silver and five bronze medals at the championships, held at the sold-out Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliro.

    The small Persian Gulf country of Qatar came in second with three gold, one silver and two bronze medals; one-time powerhouse Russia earned three gold medals, one silver and one bronze in the same championships.

    In terms of world records, Iran's Hossein Rezazadeh broke the mark for the snatch in the +105 category with a successful effort at 2.06 kgs to beat the previous record of 205.5, held by Germany's Ronny Weller.

    Finally, Greece's Akakios Kakhiasvilis on Saturday set a world record in the snatch and won the gold medal in the men's 94-kg category.

    Kakhiasvilis lifted 188 kgs in the snatch to clinch Greece's first overall category victory at the championships.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Stricter provisions for construction firms envisioned

    Athens, 29/11/1999 (ANA)

    A committee set up by the public works ministry has drafted legal provisions which will more strictly regulate the private construction sector in Greece as well as creating a registry of contractors.

    The bill has been forwarded to the relevant bodies for their observations. It comes on the heels of the collapse of an under-construction bridge in the Paiania district, east of Athens, last week that cost the lives of two workers and injured several ot hers.

    The bill will relate to all "private sector construction projects" including residential buildings (both detached homes and apartment houses); industrial and commercial properties, such as premises for light industry, plants, warehouses and hotels; as well as public buildings, such as hospitals, schools, theatres and sports facilities.

    The bill provides for the establishment of two registries of specialised personnel as well as a registry of "private construction project contractors".

    The bill outlines the composition of a firm undertaking the construction project and the qualifications that office bearers and personnel must hold.

    It will effectively limit the construction of private buildings to those holding the relevant licence issued by a specific committee. A disciplinary procedure for those infringing the law is also provided for.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] SAE congress in Thessaloniki to begin Dec. 5

    MELBOURNE, 29/11/1999 (ANA - S. Hatjimanolis)

    The congress of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) will begin in Thessaloniki on Dec. 5 -8, a local Greek-Australian leader said over the weekend.

    Dimitris Dollis noted that despite a strike of the secretariat's employees, the conference will take place as planned, following the first congress of the SAE youth sector, scheduled for Dec. 1-2.

    More than 1,100 participants are expected to attend the SAE congress from around the world, Mr. Dollis said.

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, several party leaders and Cyprus authorities will attend the congress' inaugural events.

    Youth conference : On their part, some 170 young ethnic Greeks from abroad will gather in Thessaloniki to discuss their problems, exchange thoughts, ideas and experiences with the youth of Greece, according to a SAE announcement.

    New Generation Secretary General Petros Sfikakis expressed his satisfaction over the holding of the first such SAE youth conference.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] ECOFIN to consider 'levelling' of Greece's budget deficit

    Athens, 29/11/1999 (ANA)

    The "abolition" of Greece's budget deficit in light of the country's expected accession into the euro zone will probably be decided by the ECOFIN Council of Ministers in Brussels today.

    Greece will be represented by National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou. The ECOFIN Council will also discuss issues concerning employment, the combatting of fraud at the EU level and the strengthening cooperation in taxation.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Large shark caught off Evros

    Athens, 29/11/1999 (ANA)

    A massive shark-like fish measuring some four-metres long and weighing 200 kilograms was caught by fishermen in the sea region off Mesimvria, Evros prefecture.

    The fish, found dead in the nets of fisherman Panayiotis Koutsoulas, was initially taken to the fish depot at the port of Alexandroupoli and put on display.

    According to an expert who examined it, this species of shark is harmless for man, has tasty meat and appears rarely in the specific sea region.

    Athens News Agency

    [13] Gov't to relegate natural disaster relief to municipalities

    Athens, 29/11/1999 (ANA)

    The government plans to relegate responsibilities for natural disaster relief to municipal authorities, in both prevention and amelioration, government officials said on Saturday.

    The necessary legal infrastructure change will take place within the next few months, Civil Protection General Secretary Astrinos Venianakis said during a Balkan-wide municipal administrations' conference, here.

    "If we want to have correct and effective protection, there should be a decentralisation of the whole system," he said.

    Athens News Agency

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