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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 00-06-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Simitis underlines positive results of center-left summit
  • [02] Albright says US has no intentions of imposing sanctions on Greece
  • [03] Papandreou calls for dialogue over Parthenon Marbles
  • [04] Papandreou formulates proposals for confidence-building measures in the Aegean
  • [05] Greek defense minister says European entity passes through the exercise of the EU's autonomous policy
  • [06] ECOFIN set to approve Greece's entry into Euro-zone
  • [07] Crucial week for IDs issue expected
  • [08] Press reports say local bank purchased by Greece's National Bank
  • [09] Deputy foreign minister on US visit

  • [01] Simitis underlines positive results of center-left summit

    BERLIN, 05/06/2000 (ANA G. Papachristos/P. Stangos)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday expressed his satisfaction with the results of an international summit on "Progressive Governance in the 21st Century" noting, however, that it wouldnt be realistic to expect solutions and directions to the problems brought about by a globalizes economy.

    Conversely, the Greek premier said the summits success lies in the common recording of international problems and the confirmation of the principles on which such discussions are based.

    US President Bill Clinton and 13 other international center-left leaders on Saturday announced their resolve to step up government initiatives amid an increasingly globalizes economy and society, at the end of the summit Saturday.

    The supreme issue is the acknowledgement by all that society cannot become subservient to the market, Simitis stressed.

    Asked about German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischers recent comments over the European Unions projected institutional reform and political integration, the Greek PM simply noted that we dont preclude anything in advance Greece is in favor of Europes political integration, gradually and with steps that consolidate its (Europe) interests.

    Simitis also briefly met with President Bill Clinton late Friday evening on the sidelines of the summit.

    Greek-US relations were reportedly the topic of the two leaders brief discussion at an evening reception in the German capital hosted by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

    Communique: The state should not only check the excesses of financial markets but also ensure wealth being created by new technologies like the Internet is fairly distributed, the 14 declared in an official communique after a session chaired Schroeder.

    "We want economic growth and social justice," Clinton told a news conference, pledging that the five Group of Eight (G8) nations represented in Berlin would raise their findings at next month's summit of the G8, which comprises seven leading industrialized nations and Russia.

    Schroeder said there must be a "balance of power" between elected government and the might of the financial markets and urged the fruits of the Internet-led 'new economy' to be used for the common good.

    Aside from Schroeder, Clinton, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Greece's Simitis, participants included the Italian, Canadian and Dutch prime ministers Giuliano Amato, Jean Chretien and Wim Kok, the presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Chile, Fernando de la Rua, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Ricardo Lagos as well as South African President Thabo Mbeki.

    Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres and the Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Sweden -- Helen Clark and Goran Persson -- also attended.

    [02] Albright says US has no intentions of imposing sanctions on Greece

    WASHINGTON, 05/06/2000 (ANA - E. Ellis)

    US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright assured on Sunday that "the US is not examining the eventuality of imposing sanctions against Greece."

    She was responding to a report by the National Committee on Terrorism, which alleged that Greece was not cooperating fully in combatting terrorism. The report, which proposes sanctions against Greece, will be made public on Monday.

    Speaking in an interview with CNN from Moscow where she is currently on a visit, Albright added that the problems, which exist in combatting terrorism on the part of the Greek government, have been discussed in recent meetings, which she and other US government officials have had with Greek officials.

    In Athens, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas, in commenting on the National Committee on Terrorism report, said: "We have expressed in another case as well the position and the firm will against terrorism. Such demands, which do not correspond, to the true situation in our country are not acceptable. We view that such a content has no relation with the security of the citizens in Greece and with our country's continuous effort for the elimination of such activities."

    The eventuality of sanctions being imposed on Greece and Pakistan, for allegedly "not cooperating fully" in the combatting of terrorism, is proposed by the committee, which was set up six months ago by the US Congress. The establishment of the committee was decided following attacks against US embassies in eastern Africa about two years ago and the purpose of the report is the taking of necessary measures for the protection of American citizens in and out of the US.

    The 64-page report will be made public on Monday, but its contents were known by the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, which dedicated the top story of their Sunday editions to the report.

    According to the reliable American newspapers, the report proposes that Greece and Pakistan, despite that they are close allies of the US, to be termed by the American government as "states that do not fully cooperate" against the combatting of terrorism. The placing of a country in this category will have as a result the prohibition of the sale of American equipment to that country, as well as the prohibition of participation in the pilot program for the ending of the review of passports (issues of visas) in which Greece hopes to be incorporated soon.

    "Greece is annoyingly passive in the confrontation of terrorist acts," said the report and added that "since 1975 146 terrorist attacks against American interests have occurred in Greece and only one case has been solved and there are no indications that investigations of substance have taken place in the rest."

    To date, Afghanistan is the only country to be placed in this category.

    The worst category is that of countries, which allegedly support terrorism and in this category are included Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba. The report proposes that Afghanistan be included in this category.

    Speaking to the Athens News Agency, American government sources kept their distance from the committee's proposals, noting that they do not express the Clinton administration, adding that the White House and the State Department is not examining the eventuality of the imposition of sanctions against Greece.

    US Ambassador to Athens Nicholas Burns, in statements the Athens News Agency dismissed the eventuality of sanctions being imposed on Greece. He said "the proposals included in the report have nothing to do with the State Department and do not express the Clinton administration."

    He emphasized that "the official government of the USA and I personally do not support the imposition of sanctions against Greece which is a close ally of ours. This position concerns both the sale of military material and Greece's accession to the pilot program for the non-review of passports."

    Burns said that the issue of terrorism must be dealt with away from publicity and in this direction the US government was cooperating effectively with public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis.

    [03] Papandreou calls for dialogue over Parthenon Marbles

    LONDON, 05/06/2000 (ANA-L.Tsirigotakis)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou visited the Parthenon Marbles housed at the British Museum on Sunday, at the invitation of the museum's direction.

    Papandreou called the invitation "the beginning of a constructive bilateral dialogue on the issue of the Parthenon Marbles".

    Greece has campaigned for the return of the marbles, which were taken from the Parthenon in Athens by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, in the early 19th century.

    "I want to underline the emotion felt by every Greek who visits the Parthenon Marbles. My visit is the first ever by a Greek minister at the invitation of the British Museum and I hope that this would be the beginning of a constructive dialogue, I would say an official dialogue, between the British Museum and Greek authorities on this particular issue," Papandreou said.

    "Of course I am here to address the House of Commons culture committee on this issue," he added.

    Papandreou will address the committee on Monday. Film Director and husband of late Greek culture minister Melina Mercouri, who first asked for the return of the marbles, Jules Dassin and Lina Mendoni, Secretary General at the Culture Minister will also address the committee, which is preparing a report on whether the marbles should be returned to Greece.

    But British Culture Minister Chris Smith on Sunday restated Britain's claim to the marbles in a television interview.

    "They belong to the British Museum, they are in the British Museum," Smith told GMTV television.

    "The point we have made very strongly is that they are here, we have looked after them well, they are available to everyone for free," he said.

    In December, the British Museum admitted that 40 percent of the Marbles had been affected by controversial cleaning work in the late 1930s.

    Commenting on Smith's statements, Papandreou said that the British government's views "are known, that is why we are here, to discuss this issue with the British Parliament".

    Papandreou is scheduled to have lunch with Foreign Secretary Robin Cook after his appearance before the committee.

    [04] Papandreou formulates proposals for confidence-building measures in the Aegean

    Athens, 05/06/2000 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou in an interview with the newspaper "Sunday Eleftherotypia" said that he had formulated specific proposals on the way to discuss confidence-building measures in the Aegean and that he had conveyed them to his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem.

    He said that the political directors of the two countries foreign ministries would deal with the matter on June 23.

    Papandreou said that it has been decided "collectively" by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, by National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and by him to broaden the meaning of confidence-building measures to measures on non-tension and good-neighborliness, explaining that "these measures are not only of a military nature."

    On the issue of the identity cards, Papandreou said the Prime Minister's decision to omit from identity cards any reference to religious affiliation, was an act of democratic sensitivity. He stressed that this decision contributes to the country's international image and constitutes proof of the country's consistent positions on the rights of citizens in and out of Greece.

    He said that circles in the Greek Church downgrade the magnitude of the message of Orthodoxy when they identify its survival with a plastic identity card and a state stamp.

    [05] Greek defense minister says European entity passes through the exercise of the EU's autonomous policy

    BERLIN, 05/06/2000 (ANA - P. Stangos)

    Greece's National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said here on Sunday that a "necessary condition" for the forging of a European entity, within the framework of the European Union's course towards political unification, is the Union's ability to exercise an autonomous policy of prevention and the handling of crises in the military sector.

    The prospects and problems of Europe's "emancipation" from the United States and NATO in the defense and military sector constitute the main objective of the political and military conference of "The Research Center on Strategic Decisions", being held under the auspices of German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping in Berlin and which is being attended by foreign and defense ministers and senior officials of the Atlantic Alliance.

    Talking to Greek correspondents, Tsohatzopoulos underlined that a criterion for credibility on the decisions that have been taken concerning the European Common Foreign and Security Policies and the course of the EU's political completion, after the creation and introduction of the euro, is to what degree the construction of the European Security and Defense will proceed.

    Replying to questions, the Greek defense minister termed a "bold step" and "a positive event" the sudden "opening" by US President Bill Clinton who in his speech in Aachen on Friday underlined the necessity for Europe to deepen its relations with Russia, stressing that "the doors of the EU and NATO must remain open for Russia."

    Referring to the conference, he said the United States expressed strong concern "whether the USA and Europe continue to have the same interests". The minister said the US side was wrong to worry given that "the strengthening of the Euro-Atlantic bonds require the autonomous development of Europe."

    The creation of the European rapid deployment force, comprising a force of 60,000 men and the clarification of the terms for a cooperation between the European Security and Defense Identity (ESDI) and NATO, must proceed as soon as possible, he said. The upgrading of Europe's technology and defense industry constitute the key in this direction, he concluded.

    [06] ECOFIN set to approve Greece's entry into Euro-zone

    Athens, 05/06/2000 (ANA)

    European Union Council of Finance and Economy Ministers (ECOFIN) is expected to approve Monday in Luxembourg Greece's entry into the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), during a meeting set to prepare the Union's summit in Feira, Portugal, on June 19.

    The final decision for Greece's entry into the euro-zone will be taken during the summit.

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will be taking part in Monday's meeting.

    [07] Crucial week for IDs issue expected

    Athens, 05/06/2000 (ANA)

    A crucial week begins on Monday over the divisive issue of new state-mandated identification cards and the furor related to a government decision to exclude religious affiliation from the IDs.

    The Autocephalus Orthodox Church of Greece's Holy Synod is expected to convene on Tuesday in order to decide the Church's future strategy vis-a-vis the matter in light of stinging criticism that several ecclesiastical leaders have focused on the government in the past 10 days.

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, who has led the most highly publicized attacks on the decision, again referred to Church-State relations from Imathia prefecture, north-central Greece, over the weekend as well as to Orthodoxy's role within an European context. The powerful prelate of the Church of Greece stressed that "European civilization is based on Hellenic-Christian civilization."

    He also said an Orthodox Christian's identity and a Greek's identity were two basic characteristics that "comprise our personality", before calling on churchgoers attending a standing-room-only service in the town of Veria not to "sell-out these two identities".

    Last week, just days after declaring over media airwaves an "unrelenting struggle" to force the government to allow the voluntary entry of religious affiliation, Christodoulos stressed that the government had taken an "amoral decision" that flies in the face of "the vast majority of Greek citizens represented by the Church".

    The "ID card" furor erupted in earnest this month throughout the predominately Orthodox nation of 11 million after a state-appointed committee, the Authority for the Protection of Personal Data, conveyed its opinion to the Simitis government.

    The ongoing controversy and the government's insistence in pushing ahead with what Greek Prime Minister Simitis has called as imperative to "protect citizens' sensitive personal data" has resulted in street demonstrations and primetime coverage by newspapers and broadcasters.

    The question of whether "we are firstly Greek or firstly European is a false and non-existent dilemma," Simitis said last Tuesday during a press conference with his visiting Belgian counterpart, adding: "Greece is Europe because Europe is Greece ... We are Europe because Europe is based on ideals and values that our country has always held," he said.

    [08] Press reports say local bank purchased by Greece's National Bank

    SOFIA, 05/06/2000 (ANA - B. Borisov)

    National Bank of Greece has purchased an 89-percent share of United Bulgarian Bank (UBB), according to reports in the local media on Saturday.

    Press reports stated that the sale was announced in London by a representative for the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which reportedly acted as an intermediary in the deal. Additionally, it was reported that the sale would be legally concluded by the end of the month, along with a subsequent announcement on the sale price and other terms.

    Meanwhile, the Sofia daily "Monitor" quotes a National Bank executive for Balkan operations as saying the Athens-based financial giant will buy another 10 percent of UBB in the future, as 1 percent is held by retail investors.

    National's Christos Katsanis is quoted by the paper as saying that UBB's name will not change, while he added that an expansion of the Bulgarian bank's activities is envisioned (brokerage services, among others) and not a reduction in branches or staff.

    Besides National Bank, other Greek banks active in Bulgaria include Ionian, Commercial Bank of Greece, Eurobank and Xiosbank.

    [09] Deputy foreign minister on US visit

    NEW YORK, 05/06/2000 (ANA - M. Psylos)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Angeliki Laiou is currently visiting the United States in a campaign to bring closer the children of the Greek community there to Greece.

    Laiou met over the weekend with Archbishop Dimitrios of America and with representatives of Greek community organizations.

    She said that there was a program for hundreds of Greek community children to visit Greece and voluntarily contribute in the organization of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    The minister also met with the former archbishop of America, Iakovos, and discussed issues concerning the Greek community.

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