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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 99-12-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou says EU must accept its responsibilities regarding Turkey's European course
  • [02] Simitis says PASOK will win next general elections
  • [03] Greece protests to British Museum over outcome of conference on Parthenon Marbles
  • [04] Late Greek author Bakolas awarded Balkan distinction
  • [05] Yilmaz says Greece and Turkey should `prepare together for the future`
  • [06] President Stephanopoulos says Portugal expressed 'great understanding' over Greek positions
  • [07] Stephanopoulos to attend Hellenes Abroad conference
  • [08] Group claims responsibility for arson attack on 'Nike'
  • [09] Memorandum says Greek community in Albania deprived of its property
  • [10] Tourist travel between Corfu and Sarande
  • [11] KKE voices opposition to signing of Greece-US judicial assistance agreement
  • [12] Karamanlis criticises government over situation in education

  • [01] Papandreou says EU must accept its responsibilities regarding Turkey's European course

    Athens, 06/12/1999 (ANA)

    Greece's European partners should "stop hiding behind the Greek veto and should accept their responsibilities regarding the European course of Turkey", Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday.

    Addressing the 3rd conference of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) which opened its sessions in Thessaloniki, Mr. Papandreou called on Turkey to take seriously its own European prospect and to move forward with courage on the steps required by this prospect.

    "A European course for Turkey means that our partners confront directly the existing issues," Mr. Papandreou said.

    "The Cyprus problem should become a European issue, Greek-Turkish relations should become an issue of the European institutions. The same with the Kurdish problem and human rights in Turkey, they too should become issues of Europe, not only in words but also in essence.

    "And, if in essence Europe is ready to accept its responsibilities, we will be the first to say 'yes' in Helsinki. If Europe is not ready to accept those responsibilities, then it (Europe) will have the responsibility of a (possible) Helsinki impasse, since it would have shown its inability to undertake the resulting responsibilities," the foreign minister said.

    The European Union summit in Helsinki on December 10-11 will discuss Turkey's upgrading to a Union candidate member-state status. Greece said that the EU should treat Turkey with the same criteria as other candidate countries, but added that its stand on the neighbouring nation's candidacy at the upcoming EU summit would be determined by a consideration of all factors during the sessions.

    Speaking to reporters on leaving the conference hall and prior to his departure for Brussels, Mr. Papandreou referred to the negotiations to take place there, saying that it will be a "struggle of European and Greek values for the promotion of a different Balkan peninsula".

    He said that Turkey has a position in this vision, adding however that "it will only have a position if Greece's partners agree that they are also ready to undertake their responsibilities".

    Replying to questions, he expressed optimism that Greece's efforts in Brussels and Helsinki will be crowned with success, but added that the struggle will be tough and that he is ready for it.

    Replying to a question on a report in the newspaper To Vima that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is pressuring Turkey and Greece's partners for a statement which will be favourable for Greece, Mr. Papandreou said he is in contact with all his counterparts, as well as with Ms. Albright, on all of these issues.

    Tsohatzopoulos : Turkey's course to the European Union treks through Greece, Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said yesterday in Thessaloniki.

    "Europe's need to promote a security and defence policy in the eastern Mediterranean, the Caucasus, the Middle East and Asia passes through Greece and Cyprus," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said addressing the same assembly.

    "In Helsinki, we will make clear that it is the responsibility of our European Union partners to guarantee the unhindered completion of Cyprus' accession, independently of the resolution of the Cyprus problem," the defence minister said. Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said he was optimistic that the Union member-states will respond in the aforementioned way, so that Turkey's prospect to EU candidacy may be possible. However, for this to happen, the Luxembourg criteria must be met, he added.

    On his part, Mr. Venizelos also stressed that preconditions for a possible Turkish candidacy are Cyprus' unhindered accession to the Union and respect of the European legal and political culture by Turkey.

    Athens News Agency

    [02] Simitis says PASOK will win next general elections

    Athens, 06/12/1999 (ANA)

    Ruling PASOK will win the next general elections, whenever they might occur, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said, in his closing address of the 4th party Central Committee conference in Athens Saturday. "Positive preconditions have been created for PASOK, since a new social majority has been created, a new great social coalition of forces that is expressed by the ruling party and can provide the victory," Mr. Simitis said.

    "It (the coalition) also creates the prospects of PASOK's renewal and the terms of unity at the social base of the party, as well as the party's organisation," he added.

    "PASOK should prepare the new phase that is to follow, which will have all the characteristics of an election campaign in which PASOK will proceed having two advantages, its economic and its social policies," he said.

    Mr. Simitis also noted that there was a change in the way people confront governmental policies and there were more positive attitudes now, adding that citizens were certain that the course set by the government was generally accepted and for this reason it should remain the same.

    "The course set by the government until now can not be overturned. There is an impetus accepted that can not be doubted, for this reason we have won the game of economic and political stability, as well as economic and social prospect," the premier stressed.

    He rejected any claim that the policies of the government are guided by expediency due to elections, stressing that those who do not understand this have not understood that the government's policy is not a collection of happenstance decisions as opposed to a planned policy. He also rejected claims that the stance of the government at the Helsinki summit will be determined by the expediencies of elections due next year, adding that there are several unchanging issues which "we must secure, since this is demanded by the interests of Greece".

    "We do not change (policies) according to circumstance," he said, in response to main opposition New Democracy (ND) party accusations.

    Tsohatzopoulos : National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos addressed issues on Greece's and PASOK strategies for the 21st century regarding the country's political system, and the ruling party's position in developing changes.

    "PASOK should not be transformed to a new centre, which will collect its forces to confront the Right and Left wings, which will attempt to cut 'slices' of either side.

    "We need policies of renewal and wider social and political convergence and ways to aid the parties of the Left to overcome their traditional decentralisation," Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

    "In the months or weeks remaining before the elections PASOK can not just administer issues. It is a mistake to think that with a communication policy we will win the election," he added.

    "The five thousand comrades, who participated in the last congress understood that the message was 'All together' on the course of the movement, at the same time, however, they gave their consent to certain individuals to do several things. These people will be judged tomorrow.

    "Following the elections, when they are positive and victorious, all go well. When, however, they (elections) are not positive the settling of accounts begins. I have lived such an unpleasant settling of accounts within PASOK once. Personally, it was enough. I would not want us to live another," he said . Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also referred to the need for political discussion on PASOK policies regarding the post Economic Monetary Union (EMU) entry of Greece, while he stood opposed to what he called "ca pitalist tradition which creates inequalities" as globalisation progresses. He also attacked the policies of British Prime Minister Tony Blair whom he called a "new-liberalist socialdemocrat".

    Papoutsis : On his part, former European Commissioner and PASOK Central Committee member Christos Papoutsis speaking on the upcoming Helsinki summit said that "non specific statements and double-talk weaken the position of the country".

    He criticised the proposal of the European Union Prodi committee to upgrade Turkey's status toward the Union, adding that "it offends the credibility of the EU, since it negates the preconditions of Luxembourg and for the first time it downgrades the co nnection of Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue in the development of relations between the EU and Turkey.

    "Greece can not consent to the upgrade of Turkey, if, until Helsinki, there will not be an essential step of progress on Ankara's side.

    "We should not accept any proposals with non-specific explanations and content, nor should we be satisfied in interpretations of the 'recourse to the International Court of The Hague, which is included in the Copenhagen criteria' type, since it is not included.

    "All EU decisions and Turkish commitments should be concrete, specific and should not be subject to double interpretations," Mr. Papoutsis said.

    Skandalidis : In his closing remarks to the conference, PASOK Secretary Costas Skandalidis said, "victory in the next election will reveal new prospects and we will be lead to the PASOK-successor, which we all want ".

    Mr. Skandalidis rejected the argument that it is in PASOK's interest to hold elections next March, stressing that if the election of a President of the Republic is possible in March, then elections will be held in October and the government will have had the time to improve further its already improved social policy.

    The Greek constitution requires that general elections are held in the event that the present Parliament can not elect a President of the Republic by a two-thirds majority, the new parliament, however, can elect a President by a simple 50 + 1 per cent majority.

    The Central Committee approved unanimously the text of the proposed ideological positions, presented by former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos.

    The text will be the base of discussions of PASOK organisations at local level, in light of the party's General Assembly.

    Unofficial reports noted that about 35 members of the committee walked out of the conference and did not vote.

    Athens News Agency

    [03] Greece protests to British Museum over outcome of conference on Parthenon Marbles

    LONDON, 06/12/1999 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Greece has protested to the British Museum over the development of a conference it organised last week on the issue of the cleaning of the Parthenon Marbles in the '30s. The protest was lodged by its Charge d'Affaires in L ondon Constantine Bitsios.

    Mr. Bitsios addressed a letter to the British Museum's director Robert Anderson, which he communicated to British Culture Minister Chris Smith, expressing regret that "the conference turned to irrelevant issues, that deliberate efforts were made to give a blurred picture, and that practices were aimed at dissolving the Greek request for the return of the Marbles by putting forward sentimental arguments."

    "The Greek side was under the impression that the conference would focus on the cleaning of the Marbles and that reference to the issue of their return would be avoided by both sides for the benefit of an objective analysis of issues. We, namely the Greek side, honoured and kept this conception and it is regrettable that the discussion was distanced from the issue of the conference and turned to irrelevant issues," the letter added.

    Greece is seeking the return of the Parthenon Marbles, taken from the Acropolis by Lord Elgin in 1806, as part of the preservation of its cultural heritage.

    Athens News Agency

    [04] Late Greek author Bakolas awarded Balkan distinction

    Athens, 06/12/1999 (ANA)

    The late Greek author Nikos Bakolas was yesterday awarded the "Balkanika" Literature Award by an inter-Balkan critics committee.

    The ceremony was attended by Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and representatives of seven publishing houses from Balkan countries.

    The institution of awarding a prize to a writer from a Balkan country started in 1996.

    Balkan writers gathered in Athens for the weekend in a meeting focusing on rapprochement through the literature of Balkan peoples.

    Writers participating came from Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania, Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Greece.

    Athens News Agency

    [05] Yilmaz says Greece and Turkey should `prepare together for the future`

    ANKARA, 06/12/1999 (ANA-A.Ambatzis)

    The Turkish proposal for the "initiation of Greek-Turkish negotiations on differences" between the two neighbouring countries is still valid, while seeking recourse to third parties such as the International Court at The Hague should happen in the event that no agreement can be reached, former Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said yesterday.

    During an exclusive interview to the Athens News Agency, the leader of the "Motherland Party" - one of the three in the present coalition government in Turkey, addressed Greek-Turkish relations, European Union-Turkish relations and the upcoming Helsinki EU summit.

    "The proposal I tabled in 1996 included the initiation of a dialogue process by both countries for the resolution of the problems between them. In the event that there would have been issues on which there would not have been a result during this process, then the road to aid by third parties, including the International Court of The Hague would be maintained open, for the resolution of the differences," Mr. Yilmaz said.

    "The Greek government, under the conditions of that time, did not have the opportunity to present a positive stance toward that proposal. It is true however that there is visible improvement in the relations between our two countries in comparison to 1996," he added.

    Discussing the possibility of a goodwill gesture on Turkey's part in light of the Helsinki summit regarding Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Yilmaz said "the starting point in Turkish-Greek relations, for some years now, is before our eyes. "The sta rting point is the long term interest of our countries. Both sides should recount with honesty their benefit from the climate of hostility, which I would like to believe, has remained in the past, and to think what the next 20 to 30 years will bring, if they have the same 'character'.

    "Is it better to prepare together for the future, to compete together against the challenges of the 21st century or to deceive ourselves with the satisfaction of small benefits, which we can accrue against one another, in the 'halls of diplomacy' which of course will not change the results we already have one side against the other.

    "Should we enlist the creativity and dynamism of our peoples, so as to formulate the region and our environment or to use that strength we have aiming to cause damage to each other and waste the next 20 to 30 years?" Mr. Yilmaz said.

    "The Turkish-Greek problems are real, they can not be wiped away with the creation of unrelated connections or one-sided goodwill gestures. In any other event we will have the false feeling that we solved the problem, which, however, will appear before us again and this time even more exacerbated. "By this I mean that I do not want Greece to make a goodwill gesture to Turkey in Helsinki. What I am expecting, and what I want, is for Greece to act with the logic that 'it is in my interest to coope rate with Turkey'. We can solve the problems between us in the easiest and most healthy way, under the auspices of such a cooperation," Mr. Yilmaz said.

    Addressing the effects of a possible resolution of any or all the issues between Greece and Turkey, Mr. Yilmaz said "it can not be doubted that in the event that even one of the problems was resolved, it would contribute to the positive course of our relations."

    Athens News Agency

    [06] President Stephanopoulos says Portugal expressed 'great understanding' over Greek positions

    Athens, 06/12/1999 (ANA)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos returned to Athens on Saturday at the end of a four-day official visit to Portugal, where he held talks with President Jorge Sampaio and Prime Minister Antonio Guterres.

    Speaking to reporters in flight to Athens, President Stephanopoulos said everything went well, adding that he found "great understanding" over positions he set out to his Portuguese interlocutors. He said they accept that EU principles should also apply to Turkey and that Greece is right to request what it is requesting.

    Asked whether a solution to the political problem is called for before Cyprus joins the European Union, President Stephanopoulos said such a thing is not set as a precondition. He said all desire a solution in the framework of UN principles and the Secretary General's proposals.

    President Stephanopoulos said he will meet Prime Minister Costas Simitis after the EU's Helsinki summit to be briefed on its results.

    Athens News Agency

    [07] Stephanopoulos to attend Hellenes Abroad conference

    Athens, 06/12/1999 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos arrived in Thessaloniki last night to participate in the official opening of the 3rd Conference of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE).

    Addressing the press, Mr. Stephanopoulos expressed hope that the outcome of the forthcoming EU summit in Helsinki will have positive results for Greece.

    "We all hope that things will go well, that Greek interests will be satisfied in order to have other demands satisfied."

    Athens News Agency

    [08] Group claims responsibility for arson attack on 'Nike'

    Athens, 06/12/1999 (ANA)

    A group calling itself "Filiki Eteria" (Society of Friends) yesterday claimed responsibility for the arson attack against the "Nike" sports-wear main outlet in Athens, which caused 40 million drachmas worth of damage.

    An unidentified person called Athens' "Eleftherotypia" daily and claimed responsibility for the attack in the name of the group.

    Fire brigade efforts limited the fire to the ground floor of the outlet.

    The shadowy terrorist group made its first appearance in early October when it claimed responsibility for a fire-bomb attack against a McDonald's fast food outlet in the Athens district of Egaleo.

    Athens News Agency

    [09] Memorandum says Greek community in Albania deprived of its property

    GJIROKASTER, 06/12/1999 (ANA - P. Barkas)

    About 12,500 acres of grazing land, meadows, church property and other real estate belonging to the Greek community in Albania have been granted to Albanians, who are supposedly former owners, or which are being claimed by them with support by Albanian justice and relevant state bodies.

    The campaign of granting expanses of land to Albanians, who are supposedly former owners, is aimed at the economic and demographic alteration of the solid part of the Greek minority, according to a memorandum signed by 15, 000 Greeks from Albania. The recipients of the memorandum are the Albanian authorities, the ambassadors of European Union member-states and the representatives of the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

    Athens News Agency

    [10] Tourist travel between Corfu and Sarande

    GJIROKASTER, 06/12/1999 (ANA - P. Barkas)

    A total of 500 people a day are able to visit Sarande from Corfu and vice- versa thanks to three small ferries which carry out three sailings every day. The sailings were resumed following the disturbances in 1997 and there is an upward trend regarding passenger travel.

    Twice a week the same ferries carry out sailings to Himare, providing this historic and tourist region with the opportunity to exit from isolation it has been led to due to a lack in infrastructure.

    Restoration of communication with Corfu since last summer has led to an improvement in tourist conditions in Himare.

    The development of tourism in the coast of Sarande is at quite low levels, despite the tourist interest it presents. On Saturday 60 members of the Society of Greek Guides, representing various travel agencies from all over the country, visited the region's sights and historic and cultural monuments with the purpose of developing tourism.

    Athens News Agency

    [11] KKE voices opposition to signing of Greece-US judicial assistance agreement

    Athens, 06/12/1999 (ANA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) expressed strong opposition to the signing of the "judicial assistance agreement between Greece and the US" on the part of the government.

    "Greece is becoming the long arm of the US in the above sector as well since, with the specific agreement, the US is also setting foot in its penal system," KKE said in an announcement on Saturday.

    KKE said the agreement constitutes the antechamber and necessary supplement for an impending cooperation agreement on cracking down on terrorism.

    "It jeopardises elementary individual rights, overturns existing judicial guarantees and provides the US with the possibility to have decisive participation in investigating, prosecuting and preventing crimes. This also applies to acts which are not con sidered crimes in Greece, as well as to the possibility of the US for access to archives and data which they will be able to use even if there is a contrary opinion by the government," KKE added.

    Athens News Agency

    [12] Karamanlis criticises government over situation in education

    Athens, 06/12/1999 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis expressed opposition to sit-ins in schools and to dynamic mobilisations by pupils, but criticised the government over the situation currently prevailing in the education sector.

    Speaking in the town of Servia in the Kozani prefecture on Saturday, Mr. Karamanlis criticised the government over its policy in the education sector, saying that it is dealing severe blows to the already morbid situation and is making a mockery of the sense of free education and called on it to assume its responsibilities and adopt dialogue.

    Mr. Karamanlis said the government is creating a turmoil by causing confusion and uncertainty among young people and by burdening family budgets by 1.5 to 2 million drachmas a year for preparatory schools for each pupil.

    However, he added that his party does not support dynamic actions such as sit-ins (in schools) nor protest manifestations against fellow citizens nor the destruction of public property.

    Mr. Karamanlis also said ND is prepared "to water down its wine" regarding its positions on education provided there is a policy prospect for 20 years.

    Athens News Agency

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