Diplomatic employees consider further strike action
NEWS IN DETAIL
Parliament debate on budget
Parliamentary debate on the government's new 1997 state budget began
yesterday as the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) staged a
protest rally outside the legislature against the government's economic
A vote on the budget will be taken midnight Saturday. The debate was
accompanied by a 24-hour nationwide strike called by the Civil Servants
Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY).
A delegation of ADEDY met with National Economy and Finance Minister
Yiannos Papantoniou, who did not rule out the possibility of improvements
being made to the unified salary scale.
The Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) decided to continue the 48-hour
strike called on all Greek-flagged vessels.
The government has ruled out the possibility of Prime Minister Costas
Simitis meeting the farmers for as long as tractors remain on the
Avramopoulos to Albania
Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos leaves for Tirana today at the
invitation of his local counterpart.
He will also meet with Albanian president, Sali Berisha, and visit the town
of Sarande, with a sizeable ethnic Greek population.
Athens` commitment to Bosnia peacekeering forces
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos reaffirmed yesterday that
Greece had participated and will actively participate in NATO's peacekeeping
forces in Bosnia.
Speaking to reporters after a council of NATO's defence ministers in
Brussels, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos also referred to aggressive statements
recently made by Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller, saying she was
slipping from political reality for reasons of domestic consumption in
Yesterday's session, attended by France after many years and by Spain for
the first time, focused on granting approval for NATO's new mission in
Bosnia under the name SFOR, to replace NATO's current force IFOR.
One of the issues discussed was responsibility for NATO's southern
administration, where there are conflicting views between the US and
"It appears we are headed for the creation of four regional inter-branch
and multinational headquarters - one each in Greece, Spain, Italy and
Turkey," he said.
Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said the Turkish side reiterated its proposal for the
creation of a branch headquarters (naval or air) in Izmir, which will be
responsible for the entire Mediterranean region. He said the Greek side
reiterated its disagreement with the Turkish proposal considering it a
significant change in NATO's existing administrative balance.
He further said Greece presented its own six-point proposal on NATO's
future structure, adding that despite the need for cooperation between the
two organisations each enjoyed its own autonomy.
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos has announced that Greece will
officially submit an application for the return of the Parthenon Marbles
from the British Museum.
"I explained to my British counterpart that in the next few days he will
receive a letter with Greece's official demand for the return of the
marbles," the Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted Mr. Venizelos as saying
after the EU Culture Ministers' Council session in Brussels yesterday.
President Clinton on Monday called on Greece and Turkey to re-examine their
positions and reach out to one another.
"I intend to do whatever I can in these next four years to try to help work
out the situation in Cyprus, and work out the problems generally between
Greece and Turkey," President Clinton said at a news conference with
European Commission President Jacques Santer and Irish Prime Minister John
"I believe that the future of the European Union and the future of the
United States will be much brighter and much less troublesome if these
issues can be resolved," he said.
"Greece and Turkey," he added, have a lot more in common when facing the
future than those separating them. It is the past which continues to poison
their relations," President Clinton said, noting that Greece and Turkey are
two very important countries for a " stable 21st century."
Mr. Santer said that Cyprus' accession talks to the European Union were
expected to start in 1998. "The position of the European Union in this is
very clear," he said.
Farmers` blockades drag on for 20th day,gov`t remains steadfast
Farmers in Viotia prefecture yesterday appeared to be scaling down their
protests as they lifted their main roadblock on the Athens-Lamia national
highway at the Kastro region, while protesting farmers elsewhere continued
mobilisations for the 20th consec utive day.
Two smaller blockades at Akraifnio and Thebes, as well as roadblocks in the
area of Domokos and Neo Monastiri, Fthiotida remained in place.
Meanwhile, the old and new highways to Patra continued to remain blocked at
Aigio, while farmers in Fthiotida approved the decision of the Pan-Thessaly
coordina-ting committee and will participate together with their families
in the farmers' protest ral ly in Athens on Thursday.
In discussing the farmers' protests, National Economy Minister Yiannos
Papantoniou told Reuters Television that the government was deeply
concerned about the 20-day-old road blockades, which he said were crippling
the economy, but added that the government would not give in to the
"The consequences are quite substantial...The governnment is really very,
very worried about the situation. Our patience is wearing thin," he
Mr. Papantoniou said he hoped that on Thursday there would be a turning
point in the confrontation after farmers march to Athens in a protest
Farmers are demanding lower fuel rates, higher price supports, lower Value
Added Tax (VAT) on their equipment and re-scheduling of some US$1.3 billion
Fischler favourable to support for beleaguered Greek farmers
European Union Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler yesterday expressed
full understanding with Greek farmers' problems, and the intention of the
Commission to help in a spirit of Community solidarity.
The Commissioner's statement came in response to problems besetting flood-
and disease-stricken farmers and cotton growers, as set out in a letter by
Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas. He had asked for direct subsidies
to cotton farmers, and that penalties imposed for excess production be
imposed on the farmers and areas specifically responsible.
Mr. Fischler said during the Farm Ministers' Council that the Commission
would examine as soon as possible and in a positive spirit all Greek
proposals, so as to amend the Greek Support Community Framework, and
support flood-stricken producers directly through the 1996 budget.
Greek tobacco growers in Brussles
Hundreds of Greek, Italian, Spanish, French and German tobacco growers
blocked a central square in Brussels yesterday prior to a European
Commission discussion today, expected to focus on the common tobacco market
organisation within the framework of anti-smoking campaigns.
Greek protesters from the tobacco-producing regions of Macedonia, who flew
to Brussels on Sunday, joined their European Union colleagues in front of
the European Commission building.
Shouting slogans, the Greek protesters handed a memorandum to Greek EU
Commissioner Christos Papoutsis, disputing anti-smoking arguments and
requesting that their demands be met.
State Dept. avoids comment
State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns avoided comment on threats
recently made against Greece by Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller,
saying he had not seen her statements, but made an overall statement on
threats of such a nature. "Firstly, the US expects from all its allies,
including Greece and Turkey, to have relations of cooperation without any
kind of threats of force or use of force. This is a basic principle in
relations between allies and all our allies in NATO will agree with us.
Secondly, we support absolutely Turkey's inclusion in European mechanisms
and we made this known both to the European Union and to European countries
at a bilateral level. "We do not support any kind of threats by one
NATO ally against another... NATO is not an organisation whose members
fight against each other,"he said.
Diplomats to consider further strike action
Union representatives from the foreign ministry's diplomatic and administrative
employees will convene general assemblies at noon today to consider whether
or not to continue their strike.
The strike, and primarily that of the diplomatic corps, has created serious
problems for the country's diplomatic missions abroad as well as for
communication between Greek embassies with Athens.
According to reports, Foreign Undersecretary Christos Rozakis had a meeting
with a representation of diplomatic officials on Monday. Mr. Rozakis said
the government is examining the demand that an overseas bonus for diplomats
should not be taxed, which Finance Undersecretary Nikos Christodoulakis
rejected last week.
Turkeys seized by health officials
Health officers yesterday seized 10 tonnes of US-originated turkeys, whose
consumption date had expired, owned by the Veropoulos supermarket
According to reports, market checks in view of the holiday season are
Overcast with rainfall and possible storms in the western and eastern
regions and the islands, but improvement of the weather expected later in
the night. Athens will be cloudy with possible rain in the evening and
temperatures ranging from 11-17C. Thessaloniki will be partly cloudy with
temperatures between 7-14C.
(Closing rates - buying) U.S. dlr. 242.544
Can. dlr. 177.012 Australian dlr. 192.641
Pound sterling 404.200 Irish punt 403.843
Cyprus pd 518.816, French franc 46.485
Swiss franc 183.704 Belgian franc 7.614
German mark 156.920 Finnish mark 52.507
Dutch guilder 139.867 Danish Kr. 41.021
Swedish Kr. 35.597 Norwegian Kr. 37.621
Austrian Sh. 22.310 Italian lira (100) 15.923
Yen (100) 213.201 Spanish Peseta 1.865
Portuguese Escudo 1.555