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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-12-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.forthnet.gr/ape>


NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 12/12/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Gov't will raise farmers' problems at EU Agriculture Council
  • Farmers let foreign drivers through blockade
  • US basketball player charged
  • Ornithological Society criticises plans to build on wetlands
  • Greece, Cyprus reiterate joint defence doctrine
  • Prime minister to discuss Dublin summit issues with Dutch counterpart
  • Greece rejects Turkish proposal on NATO headquarters
  • Greek-Turkish business meeting viewed favourably
  • 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 day.

    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' protests.

    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 through.

    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 two-hour operation.

    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 match.

    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 Athens.

    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 during 1997.

    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 Turkey's threats."

    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 not war."

    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 politics.

    WEATHER

    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.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    (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 1.553.

    (M.P.)


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