Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 98-04-07
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 07/04/1998 (ANA)
- Polish president's visit continues
- Commission president Santer in Greece this week
- Pangalos dismisses comments over Burns
- Archbishop's health takes downturn
- Port workers begin 48-hour strike
- FM comments on Turkish arson claims
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Polish president's visit continues
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski had separate meetings this morning
with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, main opposition New
Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Theodoros
Kwasniewski arrived here yesterday on a three-day official visit at the
invitation of his Greek counterpart, Kostis Stephanopoulos.
In statements after talks with Kaklamanis, Kwasniewski expressed satisfaction
that the Greek parliament will in May be ratifying the protocol for the
accession of new members to NATO.
Kaklamanis meanwhile announced that parliament would tomorrow ratify the
Greek-Polish Friendship and Cooperation Protocol.
He underlined to Kwasniewski Greece's interest in negotiations on the
accession of new countries to the European Union, particularly of Cyprus
and Poland. Kaklamanis stressed that the Polish economy had made significant
Kaklamanis briefed the Polish president on Greece's initiatives for peace
and cooperation in the Balkans. Kwasniewski, whose country will soon assume
the OSCE presidency, said Poland valued Greece's efforts.
Commission president Santer in Greece this week
European Commission President Jacques Santer arrives in Greece on Thursday
for a visit lasting until April 13, his third visit to the country since
assuming the post in January 1995.
During his stay, Santer will meet with President Kostis Stephanopoulos,
Prime Minister Costas Simitis and main opposition New Democracy party
leader Costas Karamanlis.
On Thursday evening, Santer will be the key speaker at a dinner to be held
within the framework of a conference organised by the periodical "The
Economist". His address will be entitled "The European Union at the Dawn of
the 21st Century".
Santer will fly to Heraklion on Friday evening for a three-day tour of
Crete, during which he will deliver a number of speeches and meet with
deputies, Eurodeputies and local authorities.
Pangalos dismisses comments over Burns
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said today that the Greek government
found "nothing annoying" in US Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns'
activities, and therefore saw no reason for protest.
At the same time he dismissed the altercation in parliament yesterday
between parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis and alternate foreign
minister George Papandreou over recent statements by Burns, and said it was
unacceptable for the House speaker to intervene on the substance of
Pangalos attributed the controversy that has arisen over Burns' statements
to "a bad history in Greece with the activities of American envoys under
other conditions in other periods", in an obvious reference to the period
of the 1967-74 7-year military junta in Greece.
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis today remained adamant in his
insistence that Burns was acting like a "preconsul" and should be "reined
in", and declined comment on a US State Department statement placing full
support behind its envoy to Greece.
In a debate in parliament last night sparked by a question tabled by a
Communist Party of Greece deputy on Burns' recent public activities,
Kaklamanis told Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou that Burns
should be kept in check and was acting like a "preconsul" in Greece, adding
that it was unacceptable for foreign ambassadors to officially visit
military and police officers or public sector officials.
Papandreou replied that the US ambassador's recent tours and contacts "lie
within the usual practice of democratic and liberal countries, provided
that the rules of diplomatic etiquette are observed".
Acting State Department spokesman Jim Foley said in Washington later that
"Ambassador Burns enjoys Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's full
confidence. We think he does an excellent job".
Pangalos told a press briefing today that the limits of the activities of
diplomatic representatives among allied countries was "quite broad nowadays
as there are more open socieites both in Europe and in America".
He said last night's incident was an "unprecedented phenomenon of the House
speaker intervening at the expense of the government" and in favour of the
"The incident," he said, "reflects the objectivity of the parliament
president, the degree to which things have changed, and how democratically
Pangalos also said Papandreou was not a man prone to clashes and that he
had departed Parliament "not in protest but because the discussion on the
question at hand had ended".
The foreign minister warned that the "bad past that exists in relation to
the activities of earlier American ambassadors should not lead us to
complex-ruled reactions", adding that "the framework of Greek-American
relations and the conditions themselves have changed".
The US today, he said, "is neither an opponent, nor a reigning authority'.
Pangalos described Greek-American relations as "excellent to exceptional",
adding that in matters of general interest, the two countries "at times
agree and at times disagree", aiming always at convergence or coincidence
Archbishop's health takes downturn
Greece's prelate Archbishop Serapheim of Athens and All Greece remained in
critical condition this morning, as the Holy Synod, ruling body of the
Orthodox Church of Greece, met urgently to discuss his possible replacement.
Archbishop Serapheim's condition was "steadily in critical condition" after
a setback last night, his doctors said.
Serapheim, 85, was rushed to the Laiko Hospital in Athens on February 24
with a viral infection and respiratory problems.
Laiko Hospital president Yannis Papadopoulos told the ANA that the
Archbishop's constitution was "exhausted due to old age and chronic renal
failure" since the early 1990s.
"At times he (his condition) makes us despair, such as last night when his
blood pressure plunged, and at other times he revives," Papadopoulos said,
adding that the Archbishop's blood pressure had returned to normal today
and he was not on life-support.
Meanwhile, the Holy Synod, ruling body of the Orthodox Church of Greece,
met this morning to decide whether the Archbishop's condition warranted a
replacement to be designated immediately, in a break with the tradition of
replacing a prelate 20 days after his decease.
Serapheim's attending physicians have said the Archbishop was longer able
to carry out his duties.
Health Minister Kostas Geitonas told reporters after visiting Serapheim
that the Archbishop was in critical condition and the doctors were on
Port workers begin 48-hour strike
The operation of the country's commercial ports is expected to be seriously
disrupted for two days as dockworkers hold a 48-hour strike beginning
tomorrow to protest the government's plans to privatise the ports of
Piraeus and Thessaloniki.
The Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) will meanwhile be taking part in
the 24-hour nationwide strike called for Thursday by the General Confederation
of Workers of Greece (GSEE).
The PNO strike begins at 6 am local time Thursday and will end at the same
time the following day.
In an announcement, PNO said that Greek seamen were "adding their voices to
the protests of all workers in the country, to express their complete
opposition to the (government's) policy of one-sided austerity and
abolition of vested rights which is aimed at the people and the workers".
At a branch level, PNO is demanding the signing of collective labour
agreements bearing in mind the recent 14 percent devaluation of the
The federation is also seeking the safeguarding of jobs for Greek seamen
and the continuation of cabotage restrictions.
FM comments on Turkish arson claims
Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said today that the government had been
aware of a document pointing to the involvement of Turkish agents
provacteurs in forest fires in Greece and had and was continuing to lodge
An article in Sunday's edition of Eleftherotypia cites a confidential
report by the "investigation department" of the Turkish prime minister's
office indicating secret ties between the official Turkish state and the
underworld during the premiership of Tansu Ciller.
According to Eleftherotypia, the Turkish states that "forest fires and bomb
explosions on Greek islands were the work of Turkish intelligence
Referring in general to the scandals rocking Turkish political life,
Pangalos said they were "symptoms of the lack of transparency and democracy
which our country too experienced in the past, during the civil war".
He expressed the view that the majority of Turkish politicians and the
Turkish people condemned such phenomena and called on Ankara and the
Turkish authorities in general "to take the necessary steps".
He added that talks within the framework of NATO on the adoption of
confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean had progressed to the
point that "decisions must now be taken".
"If the Turkish side does not try to create faits accomplis on other
matters pertaining to national sovereignty, we shall be able to adopt
favourable measures which will improve the climate in relations between the
two countries," Pangalos said, citing as an example of such measures the
extension of the summer moratorium on military exercises in the Aegean from
two to four months.
Mostly fair weather is forecast for most parts of Greece today with
scattered clouds in the mainland and the Ionian Sea. Fog in the morning.
Winds southerly, light to moderate, turning strong in the Ionian Sea.
Athens will partly cloudy with temperatures between. Same in Thessaloniki
with temperatures from 8-24C.
Monday's closing rates (buying): U.S. dollar 317.361
British pound 526.752 Japanese Yen(100) 235.620
French franc 51.439 German mark 172.509
Italian lira (100) 17.472 Irish Punt 434.298
Belgian franc 8.357 Finnish mark 56.792
Dutch guilder 153.041 Danish kr. 45.215
Austrian sch. 24.516 Spanish peseta 2.032
Swedish kr. 39.662 Norwegian kr. 41.565
Swiss franc 208.449 Port. Escudo 1.683
AUS dollar 209.987 Can. dollar 224.113
Cyprus pound 592.522