Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-12-22
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 22/12/1997 (ANA)
- Budget vote a vote of confidence for gov't
- Three PASOK deputies out of Parliamentary Group
- Body recovery in Ukrainian air crash continues
- Athens rejects Turkish claims of espionage
- PM to meet new U.S. ambassador tomorrow
- New Turkish ambassador presents credentials
- President receives seven new envoys
- Kaklamanis meets with Iran, Armenia FMs
- Iraqi ambassador calls for lifting of sanctions
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Budget vote a vote of confidence for gov't
Prime Minister Costas Simitis said early today that the passing of the 1998
state budget by Parliament confirmed that the economy was continuously
improving and that efforts had to be intensified "so that Greece can
participate on an equal basis in the process of European integration".
Parliament late last night passed the budget by 163 to 136 votes.
"The passing of the budget confirms that the majority of Parliament
approves of the policy we are following... the policy for a strong Greece,"
"In the years to come, we shall unswervingly continue this course because
Greece must have an even stronger voice and play an important role. We need
to have a strong economy and the aim of our economic policy is to secure
precisely this," the premier added.
Three PASOK deputies out of Parliamentary Group
Prime Minister Costas Simitis today expelled three of his ruling party
PASOK deputies from the party's Parliamentary Group after they failed to
fully support the 1998 budget during the vote in Parliament on Sunday
Moschos Ginonoglou, Vassilis Kedikoglou and Christos Kypouros "selectively
supported PASOK policy" during the budget debate, a statement from the
prime minister said. "This stance does not correspond with the requirement
of membership in the PASOK Parliamentary Group. From now on, they will not
participate in the PASOK Parliamentary Group".
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas later said there was no issue of the
three being expelled from the party.
"Costas Simitis, as president of the PASOK Parliamentary Group, judged that
their stance in a critical vote was not compatible with their membership of
the Parliamentary Group," Reppas said. "Each person chooses their own path
and undertakes responsibility for that choice."
The budget vote, he added, was tantamount to a confidence vote in the
government and any person not bound by collective decisions was responsible
for their choices and for the consequences.
Reppas said that the move was not a disciplinary measure "when there is
systematic distancing and undermining of decisions taken by collective
"That is when the choices made by each are judged," Reppas said.
The spokesman said today's move was not the same as former prime minister
Andreas Papandreou's decision to remove Kedikoglou and two other PASOK MPs
from the Parliamentary Group in 1992, saying that the 1992 case involved
public statements while today's case involved the budget vote in Parliament.
He reiterated that the expression of differing viewpoints should take place
in party bodies adding that the Parliamentary Group was obliged to support
the government's policies.
He rejected claims that Simitis had hardened his stance or sent a message
to party dissenters, saying he "sent a message to the people that the prime
minister and the government will complete the task they have been entrusted
with by the people".
Simitis was completely within his rights as defined by the charter of the
Parliamentary Group, PASOK party Secretary Costas Skandalidis said
At the last meeting of the Parliamentary Group, the prime minister had
stressed the need for a united front and all the deputies were aware of the
prime minister and PASOK bodies' stance, Skandalidis said.
He, too, said there was no issued of expelling the three from the
Body recovery in Ukrainian air crash continues
The bodies of 55 of the 71 passengers and crewmembers of the Ukrainian
Yacovlev-42 plane that crashed in the Pieria mountain range last week were
taken to a Thessaloniki hospital today.
Hospital sources said that only 11 of the bodies have been identified so
far by relatives.
"It is a gruesome and painful task for their relatives," the sources
Meanwhile, Greek and Ukrainian experts were at the site of the crash
examining the plane's wreckage to determine the exact causes of the
Prime Minister Costas Simitis told Parliament last night that the accident
and the crash of a C-130 military airplane taking part in the operation to
locate the downed airliner would be duscussed at an imminent session in
President Kostis Stephanopoulos today reiterated his condolences and regret
over the tragic loss of life in last week's crash of the Ukrainian airliner
in northern Greece.
Stephanopoulos was speaking during the presentation of the credentials of
the new Ukrainian ambassador to Athens, Yuriy Sergeov.
The president said the accident "has profoundly affected us all",
particularly as it came a few days after the president's official visit to
He added that the accident would not affect bilateral relations between the
Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma responded to the Greek president's message
of condolences, sent earlier.
"It was with great grief that I was informed of the terrible and tragic
crash of the Ukrainian aircraft which resulted in the loss of Greek lives.
On behalf of the Ukrainian people and myself I am extending my deepest and
sincere condolences to the relatives of the victims of this great
Kuchma also sent Stephanopoulos a letter of condolences over Saturday's
crash of a C-130 transport plane during the search for the Ukrainian
aircraft which claimed the lives of five Greek crew.
The three "black boxes" (flight recorders) of the ill-fated Yakolev-42 are
currently being examined by the committee of experts set up by the Civil
Aviation Authority (CAA) to ascertain the cause of the crash.
Informed sources said that despite external damage to the black boxes, the
components inside do not appear to have been damaged.
The Ukrainian Minister for Emergency Situations, Valery Kaltsenski, who is
heading the team of Ukrainian experts sent to Greece by Kiev to assist in
the investigation into the cause of the crash, has stated that co-operation
between his team and the CAA committee was excellent.
By noon today, the number of bodies identified had risen to 25, six of
which were those of Ukrainians. Fingerprinting is being used to identify
the bodies of Greeks who died in the crash, while it is hoped that dental
records will help identify the Ukrainians.
A Ukrainian expert in dental identification has already arrived from Kiev,
while sources said identification by DNA had not been ruled out as a
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that the latest official
publication of the competent international organisations did not state that
Thessaloniki airport was equipped with a radar system to facilitate the
approach of aircraft coming in to land.
However he did not rule out the possibility of publications by "private"
organisations stating the contrary.
Although such a landing approach radar (Instrument Landing System or ILS)
had been purchased for Thessaloniki international airport, it had not been
installed and put in operation.
There has been speculation in the Greek press that if the ILS had been
operational, it might have helped avert the crash of the Yakolev-42.
On Thursday, Reppas said it was wrong to link the crash with the fact that
the airport did not have an ILS until the relevant investigation had been
"Until the investigation has been completed," he reiterated today, "the
government advises caution, because to draw premature conclusions is very
Noting that the investigation was being closely followed by representatives
of both Ukraine and Russia (the Yakolev-42 is Russian-built), Reppas said
once the aircraft had been found "everything went like clockwork and this
illustrates the adequacy of the state machinery".
The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party meanwhile decided today to
request the formation of a fact-finding committee to ascertain whether any
particular persons or agencies were in any way responsible for the crash of
the Ukrainian aircraft.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the shadow cabinet chaired by ND
leader Costas Karamanlis which also expressed the view that the governor
and deputy governor of the Civil Aviation Authority should be dismissed.
ND spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos charged that the state machinery had
"disentegrated" during the search for the Yakolev and attributed responsibility
to Transport and Communications Minister Tassos Mandelis, saying "no one
had the courage to install the (ILS) radar which remained in storage for 21
Although ND deputies had on November 17 tabled a question in Parliament on
the issue of airport radar, Spiliotopoulos continued, "the government
remained totally indifferent".
Athens rejects Turkish claims of espionage
Greece today rejected Turkish claims that an Istanbul-based Greek diplomat
was engaged in espionage, saying the claims were "false".
"The Turkish claims are untrue," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said.
"The Turkish authorities have failed to substantiate them".
Reppas said that Ankara's stance "indicated a disposition towards cooling
relations between the two countries, something which Greece does not
If Ankara expels the diplomat, he added, the Greek foreign ministry will
respond in a similar fashion.
PM to meet new U.S. ambassador tomorrow
Prime Minister Costas Simitis will meet with U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns
on Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said today.
Reppas said Burns would brief the Greek prime minister on recent talks
betweeen U.S. President Bill Clinton and Turkish Prime Minister Mesut
Yilmaz in Washington.
New Turkish ambassador presents credentials
Turkey's new ambassador to Greece, Ali Tuygan today presented his
credentials to President Costis Stephanopoulos expressing the hope for an
improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.
Welcoming Ankara's new envoy, Stephanopoulos expressed "certainty" that the
arrival of the new ambassador would be "significant in the improvement of
relations between the two countries."
Tuygan replaced Umit Pamir, who has been appointed as diplomatic adviser to
Turkish prime minister Mesut Yilmaz.
The 53-year-old new ambassador held several posts as counsellor at the
Turkish embassies in Washington and Baghdad and the Permanent Turkish
Delegation to NATO in Brussels. He also served as Chief of Cabinet of the
President of the Republic. His latest ambassadorial posts were first in
Ottawa (1989-92) and then Riyadh (1992-94). His latest post before being
coming to Athens, was that of Ambassador, Deputy Undersecretary for
Political Affairs at the Foreign ministry.
Earlier today, three other new ambassadors of Algeria, Jordan and Saudi
Arabia also presented their credentials to Greece's head of state.
President receives seven new envoys
Greece's President Kostis Stephanopoulos today received the credentials of
seven new ambassadors to Greece, at a ceremony held in the presence of
Foreign Undersecretary Yiannos Kranidiotis and the secretary-general of the
Presidency of the Republic Emmanuel Gikas.
The new ambassadors to Greece are: United States, Nicholas Burns; Turkey,
Ali Tuygan; Algeria, Kamel Houhou; Jordan, Ahmad Sataa'n Al-Hassan; Saudi
Arabia, Ali Bin Majid Kabani; Ukraine Yuriy Sergeov; and Bangladesh,
Mohammad Ruhul Amin.
While greeting the new U.S. ambassador to Greece, Stephanopoulos said: "I
do not need to refer to Greek-U.S. relations which are always exceptional".
The president expressed the conviction that Burns's appointment as
ambassador would serve to further strengthen the ties between the two
Kaklamanis meets with Iran, Armenia FMs
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis today had separate meetings with
the foreign ministers of Iran and Armenia, who are both in Athens for a
tripartite meeting of foreign ministers.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi expressed Tehran's thanks to Greece
for its "positive stance" over the recent crisis in relations between Iran
and the European Union.
Kharrazi said relations between Athens and Tehran were "exceptional and
exemplary" and requested Athens' help in further strengthening ties with
the EU, adding that there had been a change in stance by other countries
towards Iran recently.
Kaklamanis referred to the traditional ties of friendship between the Greek
and Iranian peoples and stressed Greece's interest in Iran's efforts for
growth and progress in all sectors.
He said procedures to ratify bilateral agreements were under way.
Kaklamanis and Kharrazi discussed prospects of further developing
parliamentary cooperation between the two countries through visits by
committees and parliamentary friendship groups.
Kharrazi extended an invitation from the Iranian parliament president to
Kaklamanis to visit Tehran.
Armenian Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian requested Greece's help in
Yerevan's European vocation and in international parliamentary organisations,
during his meeting with Kaklamanis.
Kaklamanis said the productive cooperation between Greece and Armenia
reflected the close ties which linked them, noting that the strong Armenian
community in Greece was another link.
Arzoumanian briefed Kaklamanis on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh,
stressing that Armenia was ready to conduct negotiations to resolve the
conflict if there were international guarantees.
Arzoumanian, too, extended an invitation to Kaklamanis to visit Yerevan.
Iraqi ambassador calls for lifting of sanctions
Baghdad's ambassador to Greece, Issam Khalil, today called for the
immediate lifting of UN sanctions on Iraq, saying that over the last seven
years they had been responsible for the death of 900,000 children and 500,
000 women and elderly.
As a result of the sanctions, Khalil told reporters, two million Iraqis
were deprived of medical and pharmaceutical treatment and of a basic
standard of living in general.
The ambassador spoke in terms of "a process of true genocide against the
Iraqi people" for which the United States was responsible.
Commenting on the reinstatement of the "oil for food" agreement between
Baghdad and the UN, Khalil said that Iraq had to date received only 10 per
cent of the food provided under the second phase of the agreement, while
funds totalling 1 million dollars already approved for agriculture,
electrical power, water supply and drainage projects had not been
The third phase of the agreement finalised by the UN and Baghdad yesterday
allows the Iraqi government to export oil worth 2 billion dollars over a
period of six months, to meet the country's needs in foodstuffs, medicine
and basic goods.
Referring to Baghdad's refusal to allow UN Special Commission (UNSCOM)
officials in charge of dismantling Iraq's weapons of mass destruction from
inspecting presidential sites, Khalil the issue had been "devised" and
"fabricated" by Washington, charging that the US wanted to create tension
in the region so that it would have a pretext for using force against Iraq
and ensuring that the sanctions remained in place.
Since 1992, Khalil said, no other country but the US has asked to inspect
these sites, which according to Iraq are vital to its national security and
Khalil said Iraq had no prohibited weapons of any kind and strongly
supported the policy of "civilised dialogue".
Cloudiness with scattered showers in most parts of Greece. Sunny spells are
likely, especially in the south. Winds westerly, moderate to very strong.
Athens will be sunny with a few clouds and possible rain in the afternoon
with temperatures from 11C-16C. Thessaloniki will be overcast with
scattered showers and temperatures between 5C-8C.
Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 276.520
Pound sterling 461.558 Cyprus pd 530.918
French franc 46.664 Swiss franc 193.033
German mark 156.260 Italian lira (100) 15.921
Yen (100) 214.887 Canadian dlr. 193.420
Australian dlr. 181.238 Irish Punt 403.248
Belgian franc 7.573 Finnish mark 51.703
Dutch guilder 138.647 Danish kr. 41.007
Swedish kr. 35.752 Norwegian kr. 38.232
Austrian sch. 22.210 Spanish peseta 1.846
Port. Escudo 1.528