|Sunday, 19 May 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-05-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 21, 2001
 Results of PASOK policies belied critics, PM says on Chios tour
Athens, 21/05/2001 (ANA)The government's policies in recent years resulted in the strengthening of the Greek economy and Greece's entry in the euro-zone, belying all the critics who had predicted that the ruling PASOK party would fail, prime minister Costas Simitis said Sunday on the island of Chios, at the conclusion of a tour of Chios and nearby Psara island in the northern Aegean.
"In the early '90s, we would hear the Europeans formally calling Greece the 'patient' of Europe that should abandon the Union. Many at that time claimed that PASOK would not succeed. We belied them, and we died so because our national strategy was clear-cut, because we opted for clean solutions, because we set clear goals," Simitis said.
Responding indirectly to criticism by the main opposition New Democracy party on the state of the economy, Simitis said that under his government, price stability was achieved for the first time in 30 years, with an inflation rate of 3 percent and declining, with the public debt drastically reduced for the first time, and with expenditures planned for a three-year period, again for the first time.
By the year 2000, he added, workers had seen an increment of 18.5 percent in their real income, "in contrast with the beginning of the '90s when neoliberalism detracted 14 percent from their real income".
The premier also outlined the targets of what he called the "new national strategy", which included completion of the structural changes so that Greece would converge in all sectors with the corresponding levels of the developed EU societies, formulation of a "new reality" in growth and prosperity for all, the fullest exploitation of the resources under the Third Community Support Framework (CSF) and creation of the positive prerequisites for Community funding after 2006 (the 3rd CSF covers the years 2000-2006), completion of Cyprus' course to EU accession, consolidation at every opportunity of Greece's role as a guardian of peace and pole of development and cooperation in the Balkans, and reinforcement of the country's position in the EU.
Referring extensively to the inflow of funding from the 3rd CSF, 80 percent of which would be channeled to the periphery, Simitis said his government had secured, "through tough negotiations", 17.5 trillion dr. for the development of Greece covering the period up to 2006, from which it was advancing a "gigantic investment" of 9.5 trillion dr. in the agricultural sector.
Noting that 52 billion dr. had been earmarked for the development of the islands in the period 1994 to 2000 (2nd CSF), the premier further pledged that total funding from the 3rd CSF channeled to the northern Aegean would total 186.4 billion dr. for the entire period covered.
Turning to the planned reform of Greece's ailing social security and pension system, Simitis said his government's proposed measures did not concern only pensions, but "catalytically influence" the day-to-day live and income of the working citizen, and for that reason "all the facts must be examined with care, responsibility and seriousness".
"Today in Greece, we are building a house. We are building a house for many decades. We live in that house, and so do our parents, and so will our children. It must have room for all of us. It must be strong and solid," the premier said.
Simitis further said that the economic policy so criticized by the opposition was the same one that enabled PASOK to make social policy the top priority of its four-year term in office, with the channeling of funds totalling 810 billion dr. by the year 2004 in the first integrated program against poverty and social exclusion, while 2 trillion dr. were also being invested in the human potential in order to reduce unemployment.
The premier noted that although times and attitudes may change, there would always be a clear and discerning dividing line between Conservativeness and Progress, and called on all the progressive forces of the country to rally around PASOK.
As for the government's most vocal critic, Simitis said that New Democracy could not express the future because it bore the "stigma of the past".
"Our difference with ND is not due to its very burdened past, but to what it stands for: policies without prospect, without a future".
On foreign policy issues, Simitis reiterated that the policy of detente followed by his government on Greek-Turkish affairs "creates conditions of security for the inhabitants of our border islands, since Turkey is obliged to toe the EU line".
Speaking to Psara residents on Saturday, Simitis said that 80 per cent of funds from the third community support framework fund would be used to improve infrastructures and in general develop Greek rural areas.
He said that the funds would be used for local and regional infrastructure projects, farming and fishing and regional development, he added that "the land is moving forward, anyone who is honest will have to admit that over the past five-six years this land has witnessed great development".
Speaking of the history of the island, he stressed that "we should be taught by it," so as to protect our national sovereignty and independence in modern terms.
He added that the correct confrontation of dangers in this day and age is conducted through development and of the national strength, reiterating that the government continued to express its aim to achieve good relations with Turkey.
 Papandreou in Washington on Monday for talks with US leadership
WASHINGTON, 21/05/2001 (ANA - T. Ellis)US Secretary of State Colin Powell will receive Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou here on Monday at the State Department.
The two men are expected to discuss Greek-US relations, bilateral and regional matters, the promotion of American investments in Greece, political and economic cooperation and boosting cooperation between the Greek and American law enforcement agencies.
Afterwards, Papandreou will meet with US Vice-President Dick Cheney at the White House, as well as Bush administration national security advisor Condoleezza Rice
The Greek FM is also scheduled to meet with CIA chief George Tenet at the latter's office.
During his five-day visit, Papandreou has scheduled several meetings with top US lawmakers as well as contacts with several top US media outlets, including a taped interview with the CBS network's "60 Minutes" program for a piece reportedly focusing on the issue of terrorism and the 2004 Games.
On Wednesday, Papandreou will deliver an address at the Woodrow Wilson international foundation and at the US Center for Strategic Studies.
Greek FM responds to criticism regarding Turkey's human rights record: Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Sunday responded to the local criticism generated by his recent comments in Brussels over "progress" by Turkey in the area of living conditions for political prisoners in that country.
In a published newspaper interview, Papandreou said "no one can monopolies sensitivity in the area of protecting human rights, nor can such sensitivity be selective and linked with the reining political situation".
Papandreou was quoted by the "Eleftherotypia" paper's Sunday edition as citing what he called his repeated statements of solidarity towards Turkey's political prisoners, as well as a condemnation of the Turkish state's practices in the field.
"Our policy, in order to be effective, must be part of a wider framework of institutional procedures and mechanisms - which, in our case, are European - in order to have the power to pressure for change and reforms in Turkey ...
"It's through the EU's pressure that a change in Article 16 of (Turkey's) anti-terrorism law is proceeding. It's through the EU's pressure that political and economic changes in Turkey are preceding," he said.
In terms of domestic affairs, the Greek foreign minister called the latest round of nation-wide strikes in Greece by labor unions to protest the government's unveiled, then "frozen" measures for social security reform as a "positive, democratic shock" for the ruling PASOK party.
Asked about a so-called "solidarity tax" potentially aimed at higher income brackets, Papandreou said any such proposals must be "discussed within the framework of a sincere dialogue" between the government and trade unions.
He added that the only topic that cannot question is the "social aspect" of the social security system.
Finally, Papandreou rejected any notion of vying for the Athens mayor's post in the upcoming municipal elections.
 President blasts "evasive neutrals' audacity" in demanding Greece not exercise its sovereign rights
Athens, 21/05/2001 (ANA)President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos on Saturday blasted the 'evasive neutrals' who "never fought in the last war" of having the "audacity" to demand that Greece "not exercise its sovereign rights", in a clear but indirect response to Turkish demands that Greece demilitarize its Dodecannese Islands.
The President was speaking at an event commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Crete, during which Australian, New Zealand, British and Greek forces that had retreated to the island fought alongside the local population against the invading Nazi forces. It is considered one of the most crucial battles of World War II, as it delayed the German attack on Russia long enough for the Wehrmacht to be caught in the Russian winter.
Although this year's celebrations would be the last major commemoration, as the number of ageing veterans of the Battle capable of making the annual pilgrimage was dwindling, Stephanopoulos said the anniversary should and would always be remembered.
"We cannot erase our memory or stop bowing before the graves of our dead and celebrating these battles, and the bravery...That entire war, the destruction, produced, after a difficult diplomatic effort, an important gift to Greece, the Dodecannese," Stephanopoulos said.
"And today, the 'evasive neutrals' who never fought in the last war supposedly have the audacity to demand that the blood-covered Greece, the Greece that fought, the Greece that sacrificed itself, should not exercise all its sovereign rights on these islands and leave them unfortified for the sake of their own 'neutrality'," he said.
On Sunday, Stephanopoulos was declared an honorary citizen of the town of Kandanos, Chania, and given the gold key to the city.
Kandanos was burned to the ground by the Nazi forces during the occupation in retaliation for the inhabitants' resistance.
Events to commemorate the 60th anniversary since the Battle of Crete took place also on Saturday with the participation of President Stephanopoulos, who arrived on the island earlier in the day.
Stephanopoulos presided over events at the Battle of Crete monument site at Sikolia, where the Duke of Kent representing Britain, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Australian and Greek government officials, former Greek premier Constantine Mitsotakis, Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and the armed forces chiefs of the allied countries, were also present.
Following the events, Stephanopoulos laid a wraith at the family grave of renowned Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos, saying "of course the Cretans have the privilege and the fact of having fought the battle, but the triumph of the victory and the defeat belong to Greece".
"I am here with sincerely deep emotions to express as much as I can the respect and honor that belongs to those who struggled and fell and to those who struggled and survived this terrible battle," Stephanopoulos said.
 Main opposition leader accuses premier of acrimonious language
Athens, 21/05/2001 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday accused Prime Minister Costas Simitis of resorting to the use of high tones and uncontrollably acrimonious language.
Speaking to prefecture level party elected officials, Karamanlis noted that Simitis used such tactics to create dividing lines among citizens, in efforts to cover up ruling PASOK in-party problems.
"With sorrow we are observing Mr. Simitis and all those hiding behind him on their course to political degradation. We understand their panic, but the country is in need of a prime minister and not of a petty party political leader who places as his priority his party's petty interests," Karamanlis said.
He also announced that he and party cadres would tour the country during the summer months to inform citizens on ND's programs, "in the best possible way".
 Mitsotakis criticizes proposal to re-admit Samaras in ND party
Athens, 21/05/2001 (ANA)A contentious proposal to re-admit one-time foreign minister and current out-of-Parliament political leader Antonis Samaras back into the main opposition New Democracy "fold" generated a heated exchange over the weekend amongst two top ND cadres.
Honorary ND president and former premier Constantine Mitsotakis, who sacked Samaras as foreign minister in the early 1990s only to see the young politician from Messinia prefecture defect from ND and form his own party - Political Spring - prior to the 1993 elections, thoroughly criticized such a prospect.
Mihalis Liapis, a cousin of ND leader Costas Karamanlis and a top MP, in a newspaper interview made a call for Samaras' return to ND.
 'Info-revolution' the focus of high-profile three-day Athens meetings
Athens, 21/05/2001 (ANA)The sixth annual "Meeting of Athens" began on Saturday in the Greek capital, with this year's main subject of discussion entitled "Towards a New Economy: The Information Revolution".
The three-day series of events were kicked-off during a ceremony on historic Pnyx Hill across the Acropolis in central Athens before shifting on Sunday and Monday to a downtown hotel. The Athens Polytechnic's electrical engineering and computer science departments in cooperation with the Federation of Greek IT and Telecommunications Companies (SEPE) are sponsoring the event.
Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis inaugurated the conference, with other addresses by Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Transport Minister Christos Verelis.
Other speakers on the itinerary include Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic, Euro-MP and former European Commission president Jacques Santer, former French premier Raymond Barre and MIT computer science lab director Michael Dertouzos.
In an unrelated development, during a meeting on Sunday between Kaklamanis and Luxembourg's Santer, the latter emphasized his country's continuing support for Cyprus' full European Union accession.
"Cyprus fulfills all the conditions and criteria - social and economic - for reaching this goal," Santer said, adding in Latin: "Pacta sunt servanda (the agreements must be fulfilled)."
 New fuel type to replace leaded gasoline ready in market by August
Athens, 21/05/2001 (ANA)A new fuel type will most likely replace the leaded gasoline used by older cars in Greece by August, in efforts to serve an estimated two million older-technology vehicles.
The ministry of transport tabled proposals to other co-responsible ministries so as to have the necessary legal steps completed in time for the change over in Greek refineries.
Leaded gasoline will cease to be available beginning the first day of next year.
 Venizelos winds up visit to Moscow, St. Petersburg
Athens, 21/05/2001 (ANA)Greece's culture minister Evangelos Venizelos on Sunday wound up a three-day visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg, where he had talks with Russian government officials, political leaders and Patriarch Alexiy II of Moscow and All Russia.
During his visit, Venizelos also took part in several Greek-Russian cultural events and met with neo-Hellenists at Russian universities and representatives of the local Greek communities.
Venizelos further discussed Greek-Russian relations in light of a planned visit by Russian president Vladimir Putin to Athens in December, during a meeting with Russian deputy premier Valentina Matvienko with whom he also discussed and agreed the framework for a new Greek-Russian cultural cooperation for the period 2001-2005, with the focus on Russia's participation in the Cultural Olympiad Greece will be organizing in tandem with the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
During talks with Russian former premier Yevgeni Primakov, Venizelos discussed the developments in the Balkans and the Cyprus issue.
Patriarch Alexiy outlined to Venizelos the ecclesiastical and cultural issues of concern to his Church, and the planned translation into Russian of Venizelos' book "Church-State Relations".
Venizelos also opened the first conference of Neo-Hellenists at Russian Universities at the Moscow University of International Relations.
 Education minister comments on Prague meeting results
Athens, 21/05/2001 (ANA)Greek Education Minister Petros Efthymiou represented the country at a conference of his European counterparts in Prague last week, just days after a controversial article was passed in Parliament focusing on the upgrading of Technical Education Institutes (TEIs).
According to Efthymiou, the Prague meeting "made it clear" that a general system of two academic cycles of studies - undergraduate and post-graduate - are arising on the continent, "within which every country will develop its own national system".
In terms of the so-called "open studies centers" or "liberal art institutes", known as IEKs by their Greek acronym, he stressed:
"They can never attain an academic legitimization, and remain what they are: entities that provide a service, whose licenses are provided by the commerce ministry (in Greece)."
 Genocide of Pontian Hellenism by Ottoman authorities remembered
Athens, 21/05/2001 (ANA)Memorial services for the more than 350,000 Black Sea Greeks (Pontians) massacred during the 1914-1923 period in Asia Minor by Ottoman authorities were held throughout Greece on the weekend..
Local community leaders and the church held memorial services in major towns throughout the country, with the participation of Pontian organizations.
The massacre coincided with the "resolution of the Armenian question in the Ottoman Empire" via genocide after the end of the First World War.
A 1994 decision by the Greek parliament designated May 19 as the day of remembrance of the 1914-1923 Genocide of Pontian Hellenism by the Young Turk movement and Kemalist forces
In Thessaloniki, the genocide anniversary was marked by two rallies and marches to the Turkish Consulate on Saturday night. State, government and political leaders issued messages on the genocide, while main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis was the main speaker at an event organized by the Panhellenic Federation of Pontian Associations, held at the Aristotelion University.
President Costis Stephanopoulos, in a message, said that the Pontians, with their heroism and sacrifices and despite the annihilating persecution against them, succeeded in holding high their Greek identity and today were flourishing in both Greece and around the world, setting an example for all.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis, in his own message, said that Greece, unwaveringly devoted to the humanitarian values, reaffirmed its determination to never allow the repetition of such extreme and blatant attacks in our sensitive region.
Greece, he said, would carry on with its constructive contribution, in the framework of the EU and international organizations, for the institution of substantive rules renouncing violence and obliging everyone to respect human rights and their neighbors.
In his address, Karamanlis called the massacre of the Pontians a 'dark page" in the history of humanity.
He criticized the Greek State for not taking an initiative for international recognition of the sacrifice of the Pontians, and called on Turkey to realize that if it wished to become a member of the European Union, it must stop threatening and making claims on its neighbors and stop insulting international organizations.
A peaceful protest march was also staged by Greek-Australians to the Turkish Consulate in Melbourne, where they posted a resolution condemning the Pontian genocide and reaffirming their determination to continue their efforts for its recognition.
 Balkan Botanical Garden of rare flora opens near Kilkis
Athens, 21/05/2001 (ANA)A Balkan Botanical Garden containing the rare flora of the region being developed near the northern Greek town of Kilkis was inaugurated Saturday.
Outside the village Pontokerasia, on the edge of the Krousia mountain range, the agriculture ministry's National Foundation for Agricultural Research has created a Balkan Botanical Garden, covering a three hundred stremma stretch of land, in which the rare plant varieties of the entire Balkan Peninsula and more northern countries are cultivated.
One thousand varieties have already been planted, while the number will soon reach 4,000 varieties.
"Here, one sees all the flora of the Balkans," project manager Eleni Malouka told ANA.
To provide an environment in which all these plant varieties could flourish, experts created the climate, ground and aquatic conditions with the formation of waterfalls, lakes and hillocks, she explained.
The target is to preserve the region's wild vegetation, while the Garden may also serve educational purposes, she added.
The entire program, budgeted at 800 million dr., is a project under the EU's cross-border cooperation initiative INTERREG.
The Balkan Botanical Garden was formally inaugurated Saturday by agriculture deputy minister Fotis Hatzimichalis, with local authorities attending the ceremony.
 Man is arrested after attempt to slap Christodoulos
Athens, 21/05/2001 (ANA)A 28-year-old man was arrested Sunday after attempting to slap Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece while exiting with visiting Patriarch Petros of Africa from the Athens Cathedral following a Holy Mass.
The man, identified as Constantine Poulios, a private employee, was said by police to be an 'Old Calenderist', or follower of the older Julian Calendar.
The "Old Calenderists" - a splinter group of Orthodox Christians who are not under the auspices of the mainstream Greek Orthodox Church, consider the Greek Orthodox Church "heretical" for its acceptance of the new Gregorian calendar. This group should not be confused with the Slavic Orthodox Churches that still follow the Julian Calendar but are still under the auspices of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, in Phanar, Istanbul.
Poulios told police his action was in protest over the recent visit to Athens of the Pope.
Immediately afterwards, Christodoulos said the incident was "of no importance".
 No developments expected in Cyprus issue until fall
NICOSIA, 21/05/2001 (CNA/ANA)Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on Saturday said that no developments are expected in the Cyprus peace effort at least until the autumn, because despite diplomatic and silent efforts by foreign mediators involved "the Turkish side has not been convinced to abandon its intransigent demands".
Referring to the Republic's European Union accession course, Kasoulides told a press conference that Cyprus is once again leading the other candidate states in the effort to adopt the acquis communautaire and will soon provisionally close 23 of the 29 chapters that have to be examined.
The foreign minister reiterated the Greek Cypriot side's readiness to participate in negotiations from where they left off during the fifth round of meetings held last November, before Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, with Ankara's full backing, decided the UN-led proximity talks are a waste of time and that he would no longer participate unless the illegal regime in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkey since 1974 is recognized.
Kasoulides said Denktash remains firm in his demands that cannot be met as it would mean he would become more intransigent then ever believing that this attitude can gain him what he wants.
"My assessment is that neither the UN, nor the five Security Council permanent members or others who support the Secretary General in his effort are prepared to accept such demands," he added, noting however that efforts to get the Turkish Cypriot leader back to the negotiating table are continuing.