Diplomatic employees consider further strike action
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greek Ambassador among Peru hostages
Greece's Ambassador to Peru Alkiviades Karokis is among the approximately
200 hostages held by Peruvian rebels at the Japanese Ambassador's residence
in Lima, Foreign Ministry sources confirmed today.
Guerrillas from the Cuban-inspired Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement
(MRTA) stormed the Japanese Ambassador's residency late Tuesday in an
operation called 'Breaking the Silence", demanding the release of jailed
The hostages, which include the Peruvian Foreign and Agriculture Ministers,
local legislators and numerous ambassadors and diplomats from around the
world, were attending a recpetion in honour of the Japanese Emperor's
The same sources said Ambassador Karokis' wife was among the approximately
80 women and old people released.
Port workers ban on foreign-flag ships 'unacceptable,' minister says
Merchant Marine Minister Stavros Soumakis said today it was unacceptable
for foreign-flagged vessels to be prevented from entering or leaving Greek
ports by the ongoing nationwide dockworkers' and seamen's strike.
''This kind of logic serves neither the interests of the seamen nor of
shipping in general...,'' Soumakis said, when asked to comment on the
decision of the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) yesterday to extend a
48-hour strike which began on Monday for a further two days.
In a related development, minor incidents broke out at Igoumenitsa, western
Greece, when two foreign-flagged ferry-boats headed for Ancona, Italy tired
to dock at the port to let off passengers.
The two vessels, the ''Ionian Star'' and the ''Brindisi'', both of which
belong to Greek companies, had previously been given permission by the PNO
administrative board to dock at Igoumenitsa, because they were sailing
under foreign flags.
However, when the first ferry-boat let its ramp down, about 20 striking
dockworkers boarded her and tried to persuade the few Greek crew members to
join the strike. At the same time, dozens of trucks began to move towards
the ramp to disembark, triggering strong protests from the striking
The port police intervened to restore order and arrested three striking
dockworkers who were released shortly afterwards.
A similar incident took place at Piraeus when five trucks tried to board
the ferry-boat ''Daedalus'' with destination Crete. Again, scuffles broke
out between drivers and striking dockworkers until order was restored by a
Meanwhile, more than 300 trucks were stranded at the central port city of
Patras this morning as seamen extended a 48-hour strike that began on
Monday for another day.
The trucks were scheduled to board ferry boats to Italy and Piraeus.
Airport employees strike
Airport employees will stage a 24-hour nationwide strike on Friday
demanding improvements in their wages and other fringe benefits, the
Federation of Civil Aviation Employee Associations (OSYPA) announced
The announcement said that the employees are demanding that four benefits
they recieve be excluded from the new salary scale, an 8% salary increase,
and legislation of overtime and holiday remuneration.
Olympic Airways (OA) officials said they expected only minor problems on
tarmacs from the stoppage, as Air Traffic Controllers and civil aviation
technical staff were not taking part in the strike.
Farm minister announces compensation for crop losses
Agriculture Minister Stephanos Tzoumakas announced today that farmers who
have incurred losses due to bad weather would receive compensation, as
farmers continued to blockade roads around the country for the 20th
Speaking at a press conference, Tzoumakas said that compensation payments
would be made in January to farmers whose crops or installations were
damaged by recent bad weather.
He said the ministry was in the process of drawing up lists of the damage
which will be sent to the European Union in order for the corresponding
compensation to be approved.
The compensation, estimated at 10 billion drachmas, will be given to
farmers in Thessaly, Karditsa, Trikala, Larissa, Volos, Xanthi, Mytilene
and other areas of the country.
Replying to questions, Tzoumakas clarified that the funds would be made
available from the Second Community Support Framework, a procedure which
had been approved by the European Commission.
Tzoumakas also announced that the Agricultural Policy Council would be
convened for the first time on 10 January, the sessions of which would be
opened by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Opposition party leaders and 43 representatives of the producer classes,
mainly farmers, exporters and industrialists active in the agricultural
sector, have also been invited to attend the council.
Although no agenda has yet been prepared, it is expected that the meeting
will discuss all the problems facing the agricultural sector.
Meanwhile, the board of administration of the union of truck drivers was
scheduled to meet at 18:00 local time today to decide whether or not they
would use their vehicles to block roads to Athens tomorrow in order to
prevent farmers from reaching the capital to take part in a protest
If the truckers decide to block access to the capital, it will be in
protest against the 20-day blockade of roads by farmers which has left
hundreds of drivers stranded.
President to visit Egypt
President Kostis Stephanopoulos leaves on Friday for a four-day official
visit to Alexandria and Cairo at the invitation of his Egyptian counterpart
The two heads of state will have talks on Saturday in Cairo covering
bilateral relations, international developments and problems in the region
of the southeast Mediterranean.
Stephanopoulos is also expected to brief Mubarak on major Greek foreign
policy issues such as the Cyprus problem and Greek-Turkish relations.
Mubarak will most likely brief Stephanopoulos on developments in the Middle
East problem, given Egypt's leading role in the Arab world.
Stephanopoulos' visit to Egypt takes on special significance in view of
Mubarak's visit to Turkey in July and Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin
Erbakan's visit to Cairo in October..
During his stay in Egypt, Stephanopoulos will meet with members of the
Greek community and visit Luxor.
It is the first visit to Egypt by a Greek president since March 1984, when
Constantine Karamanlis had talks with President Mubarak.
Athens comments on Rifkind statements
The government said today that a statement by British Foreign Secretary
Malcolm Rifkind in which he referred to the possibility of a war between
Greece and Turkey in the Aegean was the minister's ''personal opinion''.
''This opinion does not reflect the actual situation,'' government
spokesman Dimitris Reppas said, stressing that the policy proposed by
Greece for de-escalating tension between Athens and Ankara could constitute
the basis for peace in the region.
''The prospect of a military conflict is a long way off,'' Reppas
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
Athens` commitment to Bosnia peacekeeping 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.
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.
Aris-Besiktas game to be replayed
Basketball's governing body, FIBA, has ordered a Korac Cup match between
Aris of Thessaloniki and Besiktas of Istanbul to be replayed in Athens on 7
January without the presence of supporters.
The second leg of the tie was held in Thessaloniki on 11 December but was
abandoned shortly after the start of the second half when Besiktas'
American forward, Gary Alexander, attacked Aris' Dinos Angelidis.
Aris was ahead 40-31 when the match was abandoned.
FIBA also suspended Angelidis for three matches, Alexander for four and
fined Aris 45,000 marks, that is, about 6.8 million drachmas.
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.
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