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Athens News Agency: News in English, 96-12-16

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, 16/12/1996 (ANA)

MAIN HEADLINES

  • Simitis pleased with outcome of Dublin EU summit
  • Premier to chair meeting on ongoing farmers' protests
  • ATE official: Farmers' roadblocks 'politically motivated'
  • Parliament president back from Black Sea meeting
  • Council of overseas Greeks meets in Thessaloniki

    NEWS IN DETAIL

    Simitis pleased

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis was visibly pleased with the outcome of the Dublin European Union summit on Saturday, saying that Greece had achieved "progress and successes" in all its objectives.

    What is positive for Greece, Mr. Simitis told a press conference, was the summit's conclusions on relations between the Union and Turkey, which reiterated the validity of the July 15 statement issued by EU foreign ministers which from now on would constitute the basis of discussions.

    Mr. Simitis stressed that it was accepted that serious issues exist in relations between the EU and Turkey and mention is made of improving human rights. He said the fact the conclusions referred to Turkey's role in the Cyprus issue is important.

    Following the ratification of the text, he said, French President Jacques Chirac termed the document "very harsh" which prompted the Greek prime minister to take the floor and say Greece believes that the document should be completely different and referred to latest developments, such as the crisis over the Imia islets and Turkey's attitude.

    Diplomatic sources said the references to Turkey in the conclusions also constituted an indirect political reply to a letter addressed by Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller to Irish Foreign Minister Dick Spring last week.

    Another important development, Mr. Simitis continued, was the fact that the Madrid timetable has been confirmed in relation to Cyprus' accession to the EU.

    ND welcomes 'first timid step in right direction'

    The main opposition New Democracy party yesterday called on the European Union to "understand that any further rapprochement between the EU and Turkey depends on Turkey's showing tangible proof of sincere and full respect of Greece and Cyprus' territorial integrity and sovereign rights as well as international law in its entirety".

    Simitis to chair meeting today

    The farmers' protests and reactions by social groups against the new state budget will be examined at government and party meetings today.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis will chair a government meeting at the Maximos Mansion this morning and at noon he will chair a meeting of his ruling PASOK party's Political Secretariat.

    Government members expressed some optimism over the farmers' issue yesterday, although the government would like a quicker de-escalation and avoidance of a coincidence of farmers' and others' mobilisations, something which will be difficult to avoid.

    Mr. Simitis was briefed last night on developments concerning the farmers' front by his close associates George Paschalidis and Theodoros Tsoukatos.

    The Political Secretariat meeting, apart from the farmers' issue, will also discuss mobilisation planned by the working people's trade union organisations in light of a start to the Parliamentary debate on the state budget and the possibility of governm ent deputies distancing their views on the issue.

    Farmers in the region of Thessaly yesterday said they would hold out to the last, following the latest meeting of a coordinating committee.

    Wednesday is considered a crucial day for developments, when it is hoped, Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas will have some positive proposals on his return from Brussels.

    Mr. Tzoumakas is expected to broach the issue of support for Greek farmers whose crops have been affected by adverse weather, as well as production subsidies and cotton pricing, at a meeting of the European Union's agriculture ministers today.

    In Thessaloniki, road blocks remained in place at entry points to the city, despite a gradual relaxation of protests by farmers in Macedonia.

    The road blocks had also left the prefecture of Rodopi without natural gas and many industries were facing a lack of raw materials or were unable to export their products.

    In the Peloponnese, meanwhile, the old and new national roads continued to be blocked at Aigio, with subsequent tension between protesting farmers and enclaved truck drivers.

    Dissension in ND ranks over support for farmers

    Former New Democracy prime minister George Rallis has differentiated his position from that of incumbent leader Miltiades Evert on farmers' blockades of national and provincial highways which have cut the country in two.

    "I do not agree with showing solidarity with every form of mobilisation. The blockading of national highways is an unacceptable method," he said in an interview with the Sunday "Eleftherotypia" newspaper, adding indirect criticism of Mr. Evert for putti ng his party and personal interests before the national one. Former New Democracy national economy minister Stephanos Manos also criticised the farmers' actions in an interview with the same newspaper, calling on them to "withdraw by themselves", and criticising Mr. Evert's statement last week that, "if the cost of their demands does not exceed 200 billion drachmas, they should be met".

    "If something like this takes place, then we shall have a new blockade by some social group every day, each one asking for 200 billion," he said.

    Aspiring main opposition leader George Souflias said in an interview with "Kathimerini" yesterday that he had told farmers that "certain things could be done and others not", and that "the agricultural problem in our country stands above traditional party lines.

    "A serious and responsible medium-term agricultural policy should aim at competition, without national subsidies," he added.

    Farmers' roadblocks politically motivated

    Farmers` mobilisations will de-escalate throughout Greece except Thessaly this week, PASOK Agricultural Cooperatives Bureau Secretary and Deputy Governor of the Agricultural Bank (ATE) Thanasis Papageorgiou. In an interview he told ANA that the farmers' protests were politically-motivated and that although cotton farmers in certain parts of Thessaly were facing a real problem with a reduction in production, their decision to block the Athens-Thessaloniki highway was politically motivated and aimed at creating a serious problem to the national economy.

    The re-scheduling of farmers' debts is in the interests of the Agricultural Bank, as they rationalise its portfolio, he added, but are also socially unfair because there are farmers who did not receive loans, and who are not benefitting.

    The solution to the stalemate that has arisen can only come through dialogue on the structural problems of agriculture, not just on those that become apparent when roadblocks are erected, Mr. Papageorgiou said.

    EU calls on Turkey to work on Cyprus Aegean and human rights issues

    The European Union summit has accepted the foreign ministers' declaration of July 15 as a basis for furthering relations between the EU and Turkey.

    According to the presidency conclusions, the 15 EU leaders invite the presidency "to continue its efforts following the Council's declaration of 15 July 1996 to promote an acceptable solution to the situation in the Aegean area in accordance with established international norms and to pursue contacts with the Turkish Government with a view to an early (EU- Turkey) Association Council".

    The July 15 declaration inter alia calls on Turkey to refrain from using or threatening the use of force and to have recourse to the International Court at the Hague with regard to its territorial claims against Greece.

    The conclusions also contain a call by EU leaders on Turkey to use all its influence to contribute to finding a solution to the Cyprus problem in line with UN Security Council resolutions.

    Kaklamanis returns from Black Sea meeting

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Saturday returned to Athens from Georgia, where he participated in the Parliamentary Convention of the Black Sea Cooperation Organisation (BSECO), whose presidency he will assume in the first half of 1997.

    In statements at the airport, Mr. Kaklamanis said that "Greece and its people hold a special regard for the peoples of the countries of the former Soviet Union which are participating in BSECO."

    In Tbilisi, Mr. Kaklamanis met with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, with whom he had a long discussion covering the whole spectrum of the two countries' relations, as well as more general issues.

    WEATHER

    Light clouds with spells of sunshine in most parts of Greece and the islands. Light rainfalls in the southern and the western regions with light to moderate northernly winds. Athens will be sunny with temperatures ranging from 9-16C. Partly cloudy to sunny in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 6-13C.

    SPORTS

    Weekend results of Greek First Division soccer Championship after 12 matches:
    OFI - Panahaiki         2 - 1
    Kastoria - Edessa       1 - 1
    Kalamata - Apollon      2 - 2
    PAOK - Pyrgos           1 - 1
    Ionikos - Xanthi        3 - 0
    Panathinaikos - AEK     2 - 0
    
    Veria - Olympiakos, Heraklis - Athinaikos and Kavala - Aris matches to be played today.

    Standings:

    Olympiakos 29 points, OFI, Panathinaikos 26, AEK 23, Pyrgos 21, Panahaiki 19, Kalamata 17, Veria, Kavala 16, PAOK, Ionikos 15, Xanthi 13, Apollon 11, Aris, Edessa 10, Athinaikos 8, Kastoria 6, Heraklis 5.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    (Closing rates - Friday - buying) U.S. dlr 241.919, Can. dlr.177.766, Australian dlr. 191.709, Pound sterling 400.530, Irish punt 401.264, Cyprus pd 517.903, French franc 46.400, Swiss franc 184.428, Belgian franc 7.606, German mark 156.786, Finnish mark 52.388, Dutch guilder 139.768, Danish Kr. 40.946, Swedish Kr. 35.504, Norwegian Kr. 37.381, Austrian Sh. 22.287, Italian lira (100) 15.853, Yen (100) 214.113, Spanish Peseta 1.862, Portuguese Escudo 1.551.

    (C.E.)


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