Greek film festival in Brussels
NEWS IN DETAIL
Government will raise farmers' problems at EU Agriculture Council
Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas will raise the issue of the
problems faced by farmers in Thessaly and Xanthi with his EU counterparts
next week, the government said today, as protesting farmers' blockades of
road and rail links throughout the country continued for the 15th
Acting government spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said Tzoumakas would raise
the issue at Monday's meeting of European Union farm ministers.
The spokesman also singled out main opposition New Democracy (ND) party
leader Miltiades Evert and Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary
General Aleka Papariga for criticism over their stance on the farmers'
He called on Evert to make his position clear on the method used by farmers
to press their demands and explain how the cost of satisfying their demands
could be met.
Athanassakis challenged Papariga to explain to farmers how their income
could be safeguarded outside the EU's Common Agricultural Policy.
The spokesman also called on other opposition leaders to give specific
replies to the problems rather than resorting to sensation-seeking
statements of no value.
In a related development, representatives of the business world at a joint
press conference at the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry called on
the farmers to comprehend the ''disastrous consequences'' of their action
and immediately lift the blockades.
The representatives urged the government to enter into a meaningful
dialogue with the farmers and called on the opposition parties ''to stop
encouraging the farmers' action and at last exercise responsible opposition''.
Farmers let foreign drivers through blockade
Protesting farmers today began allowing hundreds of stranded foreign lorry
drivers through roadblocks in northern Greece that have cut off road access
for 15 days, allowing the drivers, most of them British and Dutch, to
continue their itineraries, it was announced this morning.
Groups from the Farmers' Coordinating Committee arrived at 11:00 a.m. at
the roadblocks at Litochoro at the foot of Mt. Olympus and Malgaro, near
Thessaloniki to supervise the two-hour operation after the protesting
farmers at the two blockades decided to allow the foreign lorries
A spokesman for the two local committees said the decision was taken "as a
gesture of good will to the drivers" who had undergone "hardships" over the
past two weeks.
Most of the stranded lorries are at the Litochoro blockade.
The spokesman said the blockades would become impenetrable again after the
The ambassadors of Britain and the Netherlands visited Interior Minister
Alekos Papadopoulos yesterday for talks on the problem being faced by the
British and Dutch truck drivers.
Mr. Papadopoulos told the ambassadors that he had instructed regional
governors days ago to take measures for providing food and accomodation. He
added that funds have also been provided for expenses.
Meanwhile, circulation returned to normal after farmers began dismantling
the blockades on the Serres-Drama, Grevena-Kozani, and Kozani-Florina
provincial roads in Northern Greece.
At the same time, Corinth farmers dismantled the road blockade at Kiato
along the Athens-Patras national highway, but the roadblocks at Aigion
along both the old and new national highway remained in place, althoug the
tractors were replaced by trucks.
Serious traffic and transportation problems continued yesterday as farmers
showed no signs of backing down from their 14-day blockades of roads
throughout the country.
Farmers yesterday moved to block Thessaloniki's last exit to the east, and
access to the city's 'Macedonia' airport could only be gained with extreme
difficulty through small side roads.
But two minor roadblocks were lifted in the region, one liberating the old
Kavala to Thessaloniki road, and the other easing traffic around the city
of Alexandroupolis near the Greek-Turkish border.
Nevertheless, traffic from the city to the border, and the town of
Oresteiada and the Greek-Bulgarian border posts to the north remained cut
off. More than 150 TIR vehicles, mostly headed for Turkey, remained blocked
in the Evros district.
Meanwhile, businessmen in northern Greece yesterday called on the Supreme
Court to intervene to end the 14-day farmers blockade of road and rail
links which they say has cost them 150 billion drachmas so far.
US basketball player charged
American basketball player Garry Alexander of the Turkish Besiktas team was
arrested in Thessaloniki today on the basis of a wanton assault complaint
filed against him following a brawl with a Greek player during a Korac Cup
match last night.
The complaint was filed this morning by Greek player Dinos Angelides of
Aris, Thessaloniki, who was involved in the brawl with Alexander in the
18th minute of the game when Aris were ahead 40-31.
According to police sources, Alexander was detained at the Democracy Square
police station in the northern port city while the rest of the Turkish team
was scheduled to depart for Istanbul this afternoon.
TV footage of the incident appeared to show Alexander hitting Angelides
while his back was turned. Angelides did not retaliate and the incident
seemed to be over. But a few seconds later Alexander charged at Angelides
and players from both teams immediately joined in the fracas.
Order was eventually restored but the referees refused to restart the
Aris club officials, who maintain that the incident was an act of
provocation on the part of the Turkish team, have sent a video of the game
to the sport's ruling body -- FIBA.
The club's chairman, Zafeiris Samoladas, said that Aris had absolutely no
responsibility for the incident while the former general secretary of the
Greek sports ministry, George Vassilakopoulos, attributed responsibility to
the two referees, saying that they should have simply sent off the two
players involved and restart the game.
The match was the second leg of the cup tie. Aris last week won the first
leg in Istanbul 64-65.
Alexander was charged under a 1986 law ''on violence in sports stadiums''
and ordered to stand trial on June 2 next year.
The American player was subsequently released but it was not known if he
had managed to join the rest of the Besiktas team which was scheduled to
leave Thessaloniki on a flight at 15.00 hours local time.
It is the second incident during an international game between Aris and a
Turkish team. The first was at the 1993 European Cupwinners' Cup final in
Turin when Aris fans forced their way on the court at the end of the game
with Efes Pilsen, which the Greek team won 50-49.
Aris was allowed to keep the cup but penalized by FIBA which ordered the
Thessaloniki team to play all its European matches the following year in
Ornithological group criticise plans to build on wetlands
The Greek Ornithological Society today described as ''a terrible mistake''
the 2004 Olympic Games candidacy committee's selection of the ''heart'' of
Attica's most important coastal wetlands at Schinia as the construction
site for athletics installations.
The society's director, Costas Vassilakis, also charged that the committee
had not taken into consideration current proposals for the upgrading of the
Phaleron Delta and was pushing ahead with plans for the construction there
of four major sports facilities ''which will kill off what little
(wildlife) has so far survived...''.
Athens is considered one of the favourites among 11 candidate cities
bidding to hold the 2004 Olympic Games.
Ornithological Society representatives told a press conference today that
the candidacy committee had falsely stated in its bid dossier that it had
consulted with environmental organisations in Greece.
If this had been the case, they said, the ''gross error'' of selecting the
two sites would have been averted.
According to the committee's proposals, rowing, canoe and kayak installations
will be built at Schinia which, together with parking spaces, will cover at
least 2.5 million square metres.
The ornithologists pointed out however that Schinia has been incorporated
in the European Union programme 'Corine' as well as the 'Natura 2000'
network. In addition, a presidential decree is currently being prepared for
the protection of the wetlands and the Environment, Town Planning and
Public Works Ministry has already approved 260 million drachmas from the
Community Support Framework II for environmental protection works.
At Phaleron, the committee is planning the construction of a baseball
stadium at a site proposed by the Ornithological Society as a nature park.
The proposal won first prize in an international competition organised
within the framework of a United Nations conference.
Vassilakis said that alternative sites were available for the construction
of the facilities, while Ioannina Lake in northern Greece already had
installations capable of hosting the rowing events.
Greece-Cyprus joint defence doctrine
Greece yesterday assured Cyprus that all the initiatives and exercises
which began or were planned during 1996 within the framework of the joint
defence doctrine between the two countries would proceed normally also
Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of two-day talks with his
Cypriot counterpart Costas Eliades, National Defence Minister Akis
Tsohatzopoulos reiterated that the joint defence doctrine "constitutes the
political reply against any external threat, specifically against Turkey,
which threatens both Greece and Cyprus." Informed sources said that
specific decisions were taken at the meeting concerning the purchase of
defence equipment, the realisation of infrastructure works to boost Cyprus'
defence and the better use of manpower.
Asked to comment on UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's report
attributing responsibility for the recent bloodshed in Cyprus to the
Turkish and Turkish Cypriot sides, Mr. Eliades said that the Turkish
provocations could not but be recognised "since there are cold-blooded
assassinations of innocent people in a region which falls under the command
of the United Nations."
Asked to comment on the Turkish-Israeli military agreement, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos
said it did not affect the joint defence doctrine, "our political reply to
Simitis to discuss Dublin Summit issues with Dutch counterpart
Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Dutch counterpart Vim Kok are
scheduled to meet today in order to discuss a range of issues to be raised
during the Dublin Summit on Friday and Saturday, including the consolidation
of security and territorial integrity of the European Union member-states
and the protection of the Union's external borders.
Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos also arrived at The Hague
yesterday, while the prime Minister, who is accompanied by Alternate
Foreign Minister George Papandreou, leaves for Dublin today to attend the
Summit on the Intergovernmental Conference and the revision of the
Maastricht Treaty as well as on the Economic and Monetary Union and the
single currency process.
Greece rejects Ciller proposal
Greek government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterdeay rejected a proposal
by Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller at the NATO Foreign Ministers
Summit on Tuesday for rotating the Presidency of NATO headquarters in
Larissa between Greek and Turkish commanders "adding that the proposal did
not draw the support of any other NATO member.
He described the Turkish diplomacy's failed efforts to upgrade Turkey's
membership with the Western European Union to full member status as being a
"success" of the Greek delegation.
Greek-Turkish business conference viewed favourably by Turkish press
A Greek-Turkish business conference which ended in Athens on Tuesday gained
positive coverage in the Turkish press, which ran articles under headlines
such as "search for an economic peace with Greece," and "Slogan: Business
Most press reports consider the conference, organised by the Business
Consultants Company "Kantor," as the "beginning of a serious rapprochement,
" noting that "trade will make politicians more flexible."
President of the Turkish Businessmen and Industrialists Association, Halis
Komili said that businessmen wanted to improve economic relations between
the two countries, believing that this will also have an effect in
Rainfalls and cloudy skies in most parts of Greece especially in the west.
Unstable weather in the rest of the country with local rain and storms in
the Cyclades, Crete and the Dodecanese. Athens will be overcast with
occasional showers and sunny spells with temperatures ranging from 10-15C.
Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 6-12C.
(Closing rates -buying) U.S. dlr 241.453, Can. dlr.177.290, Australian dlr.
191.332, Pound sterling 400.014, Irish punt 401.661, Cyprus pd 517.725,
French franc 46.285, Swiss franc 183.629, Belgian franc 7.600, German mark
156.667, Finnish mark 52.358, Dutch guilder 139.708, Danish Kr. 40.930,
Swedish Kr. 35.603, Norwegian Kr. 37.513, Austrian Sh. 22.278, Italian lira
(100) 15.850, Yen (100) 214.212, Spanish Peseta 1.864, Portuguese Escudo