Gov't: Ambassador in Peru instructed not to return to guerillas
NEWS IN DETAIL
Parliament approves strict 1997 budget
Parliament approved in the early hours today the Panhellenic Socialist
Movement (PASOK) government's budget for the year 1997.
The budget was passed with 160 votes in favour and 136 against.
Four deputies were absent from the vote.
Main opposition New Democracy party and Social Movement (DHKKI) party
deputies voted in favour of the National Defence Ministry's budget.
Closing a five-day parliamentary debate on the government's economic plans
for 1997, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said that the government's budget
was the "only conclusive proposition" to the economic problems of the
This budget, he added, "is the basic instrument for economic growth and
social justice and not the total of economic figures, while it exactly
depicts the government's main target which is the creation of a strong and
The Greek people, Simitis went on, with its vote on the September 22
general elections asked from the government to "respond positively to the
challenges of European unification".
"This decision is not due to an external coercion since national interest
would command the same economic policy even in the absence of the EU
Economic and Monetary Union".
The 1997 budget aims at bringing Greece closer to fulfilling the EU
Farmers' road and rail links blockades lifted
Farmers, today, lifted all road and rail blockades ending a 24-day
nationwide protest which had cut off whole regions in Greece creating road,
rail and sea transport chaos and crippling the economy.
The final collapse of the long army of 10,000 tractors, parked on road and
rail links, came today after the Pan-Thessaly farmer's committee voted to
lift the barricades in a gesture of Christmas good will.
"We have a deep religious feeling and it never occured to us that we would
cause trouble to the Greek citizen these days since Christmas is one of the
greatest feasts of Christiandom," a representatitive of the Farmers'
Coordinating Committee said.
But as public clean-up crews were moving in to clear the roads in various
regions in Greece, he warned that the farmers had not abandoned their
demands but would continue their protest after the Christmas holiday.
"Our stance will depend on the government," the representative said.
The farmers want lower fuel prices, higher price supports, lower Value
Added Tax (VAT) on equipment and the rescheduling of $1.3 billion in
Prime Minister Costas Simitis, however, who had stood firm in his position
that he would not meet with farmers' representatives as long as the
barricades were not lifted, had made clear that he would rather "go home"
instead of bowing to protesting farmers' demands.
Meanwhile, the government yesterday announced that Simitis would meet on
Monday with the presidiums of the country's three biggest farmers' labour
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said the meeting would be held within
"the framework of dialogue concerning the problems facing the Greek
agriculture, which must be held with the broadest possible participation."
Speaking in Parliament minutes before it voted on the budget, late Saturday
night, Prime Minister Costas Simitis expressed hope that the farmers would
lift the remaining barricades.
In recent days, farmers in numerous places around the country had de-
escalated their protest action, culminating Saturday in the decision of the
farmers of Macedonia and Thrace to lift all blockades until mid-January
when they will review the situation.
Stressing that the government was willing to have dialogue with the farmers,
Simitis noted, however, that "the form of dialogue cannot be determined by
certain groups with extreme forms of protest."
"There are no winners and losers," Simitis said. "There are only big
problems which have been created in the economy, in the society, the entire
people by the farmers' protests," he added.
Emphasizing that "all of us can be winners if we promote social cohesion,"
the premier said the government was willing to have dialogue but would not
create "a society when those who take to the streets can make money."
"It should be made clear to all that demands of hundreds of billions (of
drachmas) cannot be satisfied by any responsible government, such as no
responsible government can abolish the common agricultural policy without
having to pay hundreds of billions in compensation."
Mubarak to assume initiative in Greek-Turkish relations, if asked
President Hosni Mubarak said Saturday he hoped Greek-Turkish relations
would be normalised, adding that he could undertake the role of mediator if
requested, according to an ANA despatch from Cairo.
Speaking at a joint press conference after one hour of talks in the
Egyptian capital with his visiting Greek counterpart, Kostis Stephanopoulos,
Mubarak said he hoped a solution would be found to the problems in Greek-
Turkish relations ''so as to avoid bloodshed and the enormous cost of
Replying to reporters' questions, Mubarak underlined that Egypt was not on
the side of Greece or Turkey ''but on the side of right''.
Stephanopoulos said he had briefed Mubarak on Greek positions concerning
''certain crucial aspects'' of Greek-Turkish relations.
Mubarak said he would not hesitate to undertake an initiative aimed at the
normalisation of Greek-Turkish relations if requested by Athens.
The two heads of state also discussed developments in the Middle East and
bilateral relations which, they said, although at a high level, could be
Stephanopoulos is accompanied by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who
told reporters after talks with his Egyptian counterpart Amr Mousa and
Defence Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantaoui that the latter would visit
Athens in the first quarter of 1997 for talks with his Greek counterpart
Pangalos said that Cairo was following with concern the domestic situation
in Turkey, adding that the Egyptian political leadership was apprehensive
about the rapprochement between Turkey and Israel.
Stephanopuolos arrived in Alexandria yesterday on the first stop of his
official four-day visit to Egypt.
PNO calls off strike, ferry boats scheduled to sail
More than 15 passenger ferry boats were expected to sail from Piraeus until
the early morning hours, carrying more than 5,000 passengers and 2,000
trucks with goods to Aegean islands, Crete and the Dodecanese, after a
decision by the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) last night to call
off their strike.
PNO members had begun their strike on Monday, which affected all Greek-
flagged vessels throughout the world.
On Saturday, the finance ministry announced that it had committed itself to
finding a commonly acceptable decision with the seamen's union, the General
Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and the Piraeus Labour Centre on
merchant marine issues, which will provide the basis for a debate in
The announcement came after a meeting between Merchant Marine Minister
Stavros Soumakis, Finance Undersecretary Giorgos Drys, and other bodies
The PNO originally called a 48-hour strike in support of their demand that
the government not proceed with plans to abolish seamen's special fiscal
status, according to which their income is taxed.
It was subsequently extended for two days and then, yesterday, for a
further 24 hours.
In a related development, a Piraeus court ruled Thursday that the strike
was illegal and asked the PNO to immediately call off all protest
"We do not accept coercion from the shipowning companies which are asking
Greek captains not only to carry on sailing vessels but also to impose
sanctions on striking seamen," PNO general secretary Yiannis Halas
Road accident kills four
Four people were killed in a road accident on late Saturday night when
their car collided with an international transport truck on the Thessaloniki
national road in the juncion of Thessaloniki-Verroia.
The dead were identified by police as Dimitris Riskos, Dionysis Kounopoulos,
and Christos Tegos all aged 36 and Nikos Karitopoulos, 46.
The truck driver, Romanian Florin Kotzokarou, 33, has been arrested and
will appear before the public presecutor.
More aggressive economic policy for Balkans, E. Europe considered
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou held a business summit at her own
initiative at the industry ministry Friday, which was attended by business
leaders Vardis Vardinoyiannis, Sokratis Kokkalis, Dimitris Kopelouzos and
The meeting focused on the government's plan to implement an aggressive
economic cooperation policy with Balkan and eastern European countries in
the sectors of industry and energy. In the framework of promoting the
government's plan, more meetings will be held with business representatives
and finalised decisions will be announced after an enlarged meeting
ischaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
Enamoured Albanian to be deported
An illegal Albanian immigrant who allegedly kidnapped a 14 year-old girl
from Kavalla will be deported to Albania, police said today.
Stelios Deftos, 20, allegedly kidnapped the 14-year-old from her house in
Police found Deftos and the girl at a hotel in Thessaloniki.
Deftos told police he had taken a fancy to the girl and was planning to
take her to Albania so she could meet his family.
Meanwhile, the girl returned to her home.
Gov't: Ambassador in Peru instructed not to return to guerillas
The government said Friday that its ambassador in Peru had been instructed
"to use the opportunity given to him to escape" from the Tupac Amaru
guerrillas, who are still holding about 200 people hostage at the Japanese
ambassador's residence in Lima. " This was the message given to (Ambassador
Alcibiades) Karokis, when he was a prisoner, through his wife," government
spokesman Dimitris Reppas said in reply to press questions. The Greek envoy
was released by the guerrillas along with three other ambassad ors to
negotiate with the Peruvian government on their behalf. Mr. Karokis, like
the ambassadors of Germany and France, did not return to the embassy.
Only the Canadian ambassador returned. Diplomatic sources said all the
European diplomatic mission s in Lima agreed with the decision on the
European ambassadors' getaway. Asked why Mr. Karokis did not play the role
of mediator as requested by the guerrillas, Mr. Reppas replied that
ambassadors are representatives of their respective countries and "the
Greek government did not assign the role of mediator to our envoy in
Scattered showers and moderate winds in Attica, temperature 10-16C. Similar
weather in Thessaloniki with light winds, temperature 6-13C.
Closing rates (Friday) - buying U.S. dlr. 245.351
Can. dlr. 179.373 Australian dlr. 195.300
Pound sterling 409.478 Irish punt 407.117
Cyprus pd 519.598 French franc 46.721
Swiss franc 183.837 Belgian franc 7.657
German mark 157.867 Finnish mark 52.969
Dutch guilder 140.695 Danish Kr. 41.291
Swedish Kr. 35.940 Norwegian Kr. 37.976
Austrian Sh. 22.439 Italian lira (100) 16.072
Yen (100) 215.076 Spanish Peseta 1.875
Portuguese Escudo 1.564